golden parachute gold parachute Above the Law blog.jpgWe’ve received approximately five hundred responses to last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on whether you expect layoffs at your firm, and how you’re coping.
By and large, you’re a pretty gloomy bunch. Forty-three percent of respondents are afraid that their firm will have layoffs. Among respondents who are Class of 1999 or more senior, this number spiked to 66%. Among law students, 53% of respondents are afraid their firms will have layoffs.
Respondents in the Bay Area, New York and Chicago were the most concerned, with 56%, 48%, and 46%, respectively, fearing layoffs. In contrast, only 19% of respondents in Philadelphia said they were afraid of layoffs at their firms. In other markets, layoff concern ranged from 31% to 38% of responses.
Most respondents thought their law firms would provide at least some support during a layoff:
  * 54% thought their firm would provide a severance package.
  * 53% thought their firm would provide ample notice so they could find a new job.
  * 38% thought their firm would help them move between departments to stay busy.
  * 20% thought their firm would help them relocate to another office.
  * Another 20%, however, were not sure if their firm would help them, and 15% thought their firm simply wouldn’t help them during a layoff.
While most respondents expect some support from their law firms, the most popular response to an anticipated layoff is to simply switch firms:
  * 53% of respondents said that they would talk to headhunters about switching firms or going in-house to protect themselves from a slowdown.
  * 42% would talk to friends at other firms.
Additional survey findings, after the jump.


A sizable number of respondents would take steps to improve their chances at their current firms:
  * 32% would try to move to a busier practice area within the firm.
  * 31% would take on pro bono work to keep developing a marketable skill set.
  * 23% would write client bulletins or articles to keep developing substantive knowledge.
  * 12% would try to move to a busier office within the firm.
More drastic “reboot” approaches generally appealed to fewer than ten percent of respondents:
  * 9% would apply for a judicial clerkship to reboot their resumes.
  * 8% would start volunteering for a political campaign or non-profit to avoid a resume gap.
  * 7% would start prepping for another state’s bar exam.
  * A mere two percent would enroll in a Tax LLM program to avoid a resume gap, suggesting that death and taxes may be equal not only in their certainty, but also in their popularity.
About a fifth of respondents, however, just don’t know what they would do to protect themselves from a slowdown at their firms. (Hopefully, they found this post helpful.)
In happier news, I’m updating the clerkship, maternity, and paternity leave tables, to reflect some tips and news from Dewey & LeBoeuf, WilmerHale, Ropes & Gray, and Proskauer Rose. Keep ‘em coming.

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this survey.


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