Stealth Layoffs at McDermott Will & Emery?

McDermott logo.JPGOver the past few weeks, there has been a lot of rumbling over at McDermott Will & Emery. One tipster succinctly explained what many MWE associates are seeing:

[T]here is literally no work … nothing at work for a few weeks. Apparently everyone is waiting for the axe to fall.

You should watch MWE like a hawk.

More like a buzzard. We’ve been circling over McDermott for days, waiting for something to fall. So far, we’ve not yet been able to speak with a single MWE associate who will stipulate that they have been laid off. But sources both inside and outside MWE claim that a number of stealth layoffs have taken place at the firm over the past month.

The number many tipsters are coming up with is 20.

Now, that number seems high to us. A major firm like McDermott usually can’t keep 20 people silent for all that long. However, when we approached the firm with our information, they would neither confirm nor deny the reports about firm-wide layoffs. A spokesperson for MWE only had this to say:

As a matter of policy we do not publicly discuss personnel matters.

Additional tipsters weigh in after the jump.

As we understand it, these layoffs — if true — have been focused in MWE’s D.C. and L.A. offices. We have some reports about layoffs in New York and Chicago, but most of our information is coming out of D.C. and L.A.

We don’t yet have a good idea of which practice groups MWE might be cutting.

We also believe that some McDermott associates were laid off so “stealthily” that they didn’t even know they were laid off until an attorney placement service called them. According a tipster, MWE works with an outgoing-attorney career assistance company. A number of associates received calls from that placement and counseling service before they were told by management that they were fired.

That’s a tough way to find out you’re no longer needed, but it’s better than a post-it note on your computer screen.

Finally, we also understand that at least some of these attorney reductions have hit the class of 2007. If it turns out that these are “performance review” layoffs, it’ll be difficult to explain how associates who have been there less than 18 months performed so poorly that they had to be axed.

Meanwhile, we are still waiting to see how McDermott’s final bonus numbers shake out. Remember that they announced that they were sticking to their early bonus plan, but left the door open on what their final bonus package was going to look like.

Whether you are interested in bonus news or layoffs news, interesting things are happening at MWE. We’ll keep you posted as more information shakes loose.

Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: McDermott Will & Emery is Sticking to the Plan … For Now

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