Last Thursday, we reported that Proskauer Rose laid off 35 associates and 25 staff. At the time, the firm released a statement explaining the need for the cuts:
We are taking these actions in response to the worldwide economic crisis, as well as an unprecedented reduction in our historical lawyer attrition rate, which requires that we align our staffing with current and projected levels of activity on behalf of our clients.
But how often are first-year associates the subjects to “historic attrition?” Not many first years show up for work in September only to leave by December.
But our sources indicate that a number of first-year associates where included in the 35 attorneys Proskauer laid off. A couple of tipsters report that as many as eight first-years lost their job.
We reached out to Proskauer to clarify the number of first-years let go, but the firm declined to comment.
As we understand it, the fired first-years were given a number of reasons for their dismissal. We explore some of them after the jump.
Put simply, first year Proskauer associates really, really needed to pass the bar on their first try. Those who failed were not automatically cut (and those that passed were not guaranteed their jobs) but first-years that failed the bar were not in good shape.
The other big criteria for dismissing first-year associates turns out to be: summer associate reviews.
That means that a review given based on your performance over a year ago was instrumental in determining whether or not you got fired during the worst economic climate in a generation. I can understand cutting associates based on summer 2008 reviews. It’s not particularly fair, but some people could see the writing on the wall six months ago. But cutting people based on summer 2007 reviews? In 2007 people were still operating under the assumption that the summer was a glorified recruitment tool, not an extended 12-week interview.
Some readers have contended that the people who are laid off “don’t have their names pulled out of a hat.” Maybe so, but surely firing people based on a review given over a year ago is not “fair.”
Once again, welcome to the “new” economy. Assume nothing and work your tail off.