As we’ve pointed out in the past, it’s difficult to tell the difference between “normal business practices” and “stealth layoffs” in these difficult economic times. Milbank has made a change in their annual review process, but what that means — if anything — is anyone’s guess.
At this point, we don’t know if Milbank is planing any attorney reductions. But our tipsters report these early warning signs:
Milbank sent an email around to all junior and senior associates that the performance review cycle would begin tomorrow. They moved the review up by 6 months. The reviews are normally done annually and the normal review period for juniors and seniors is June. Apparently the firm can’t wait that long to shed attorneys. …
Milbank has laid the groundwork for stealth layoffs.
But Milbank told us that this change has been a long time coming. A firm spokesperson told ATL:
We did an overhaul of our evaluation system in late 2007 to early 2008 that was part of a broader firm excellence initiative. The new review process was designed to encourage excellence and provide more meaningful feedback, forward-looking career guidance and greater focus to the professional development of our associates. The roll-out of our new evaluation process was communicated to our associates in April 2008. This included split timing with a cycle for junior and senior associates commencing in January and another cycle for mid-level associates commencing in August. Last year, we started our junior/senior cycle in April simply due to planning and timing issues. The January start we are doing this year was the exact timing contemplated by our announcement to our associates last April.
Either way, we’d encourage Milbank associates to take the review process seriously this year.