The first news started to leak this morning about some terrible news at a top firm:
White & Case [is] currently calling people and laying them off. I haven’t heard anything in regards to scope, but [I] hear that it’s big.
Now that White & Case has had time to tell all of the affected associates, they are ready to talk about how deeply the cuts went. A firm spokesperson tells us:
As part of its planning for 2009, White & Case LLP is reviewing its global operations against current and anticipated market conditions and expected client needs. While the Firm anticipates a strong 2008, with significant revenue growth across our globally diverse network, we are exercising prudent business judgment and taking several steps in advance of what is likely to be a significantly weakened global economy in 2009.
Among these actions, the Firm is reducing its global legal and nonlegal headcount by about 3% from current levels, or notifying employees that they are at risk of redundancy. These reductions are being driven in large part by a decline in attrition rates. Those who have been asked to leave will receive a competitive severance package.
“We are living in a time of unique economic challenges, and well-managed, successful businesses, including White & Case, must assess their operations in light of current market realities,” said White & Case chairman Hugh Verrier. “We believe this is a necessary step to adjust to the global economic downturn and to ensure a strong, long-term future for the Firm.”
Upon information and belief — the firm did not give us specific numbers — 70 associates nationwide were let go.
Read about some associate reaction after the jump.
Most associates at White & Case spent the morning in a panic. As we understand it, associates received phone calls that told them to report to a partner’s office. Only upon arrival did they realize that their time was up:
The [redacted] partner called … He had us meet him (just him) in a conference room and had a script, and just kind of powered through it. Difficult economic times, hard choices to be made, unfortunately you’re among those as of today who’s terminated, etc. It’s network wide, he said.
The layoffs came as a “complete shock” to the associates we talked with.
Another tipster told us that those who were laid off today have a week to “pack up and go.”
Does anybody believe that it will stop there?
We can only offer words of encouragement to the associates laid off today. You’ve got to view it as an opportunity, not a loss. While many attorneys go into Biglaw looking for job security, many leave looking for a better life. Good luck with the next step.
Update (3:15): A casualty of these nationwide layoffs reports that the severance package is 12 weeks pay, plus all the accrued vacation time. That’s better than what Loeb & Loeb offered some people.
Update (4:11): The WSJ Law Blog is now reporting that 100 staffers were laid off in addition to the 70 attorneys we mentioned earlier.