The Boston-based law firm Brown Rudnick is the latest to sacrifice associates to the global economic crisis. Yesterday they parted ways with 20 attorneys, 3 paralegals, and 20 other staffers.
But the anticipation might have been worse than the hammer. Brown Rudnick told associates they were laying people off before anybody was actually laid off. This firm-wide email went out yesterday:
I regret to inform you that today we are having a layoff. Layoff notifications have begun this morning and will continue until approximately 4:00 PM ET today. This action will affect just under 10% of our attorneys, paralegals and staff….
Out of respect for those who are being laid off, we are unable to share more information with you at this time, but we will answer your questions when the notification process is complete. Please refrain from approaching members of the Management Committee, Managing Directors or Administrative Directors, prior to 4:00 PM ET, with questions about the layoff, as they, too, need to honor the privacy of our colleagues.
Everyone who is impacted by today’s action will be receiving severance and outplacement assistance. No other layoffs are planned after today.
The Firm remains strong. Today’s action is intended to better align our staffing with current work levels at the Firm and to position the Firm to be successful in this challenging economic environment.
… [W]e will be holding two meetings in the Boston Event Center later today with video connection to Hartford, New York, Providence and Washington. I encourage you to attend these group meetings. I will answer your questions at that time.
That’s a tough day. Waiting by your phone to learn if you still have a job.
After the jump, it was all over by 4:00 p.m.
After all the recently unemployed Brown Rudnick personnel were informed of their fate, this email was sent around the firm:
Today, we have laid off 20 lawyers, 3 paralegals, and 20 members of our staff. Among those affected by todayʼs action are 2 associates and 1 staff person in London, who, in accordance with UK law, were notified that their positions have been provisionally selected for being made redundant.
We have reached out to everyone impacted by today’s decision. All will be receiving severance and outplacement assistance. No other layoffs are planned.
The global credit crisis and related economic downturn have adversely affected almost all businesses, including law firms and their clients. For law firms this means reduced demand for legal services, as transactional activity slows and clients face increased pressure to reduce expenses. While we carefully considered all other options, we reluctantly concluded that the painful steps taken today were a necessary response to these adverse economic conditions. Today’s action is intended to better align our staffing with current work levels at the Firm and to position the Firm to be successful in this more challenging economic environment.
In this downturn affecting the entire legal industry, we are fortunate to have many advantages. Our principal clients are strong and our client base is broad and deep. Our geographic footprint covers key markets. We are not overly dependent on one or two practice areas. We have premier practice areas such as bankruptcy and restructuring, litigation and GL&S, among others, that should perform well in this economic climate.
Our greatest strength, however, is our people, their entrepreneurial energy and collaborative spirit. Working together we will manage through this difficult period. We will continue hiring to support growing practice areas and, with your help, we will continue to build a Firm that remains a preferred destination for clients, as well as the most talented lawyers, GL&S professionals and staff.
Today’s news is unwelcome and painful for all of us. It affects our friends and colleagues. Please respect their privacy and provide them with the support and understanding they deserve.
As we understand it, the severance package is three months for attorneys. No first-year associates were let go.
And so it goes. The market continues to tank, and companies continue to lay people off. As an industry, we are well beyond the “triage” phase. There is carnage everywhere.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of layoffs