The latest dispatch comes from Kaye Scholer. The firm conducted layoffs in the Corporate and Finance department on Friday. The number of affected attorneys is not known, but is believed to be at least five, including some first- and second-year associates.
In November 2008, the firm claimed that it was dismissing some lawyers for performance-based reasons. Back then, managing partner Barry Willner stated: “While we are obviously mindful of the difficult economic situation affecting all of us, we have no current plans to engage in layoffs or other terminations outside of the normal course of our business.”
Alas, three months later, the economy looks worse than ever. So bad, in fact, that Kaye Scholer finds itself chasing after gangsters for legal fees.
More details about last week’s layoffs, after the jump.
Tipsters have previously accused KS of engaging in stealth layoffs. For example:
Kaye Scholer has been utilizing the “stealth layoff” approach quite heavily since December / January. I was given notice to look for another job a few weeks ago, and I personally know of about 10 others that [have been] “asked to leave” since then.
At the associate meeting, Barry Willner told everyone that associate numbers would be “about the same” in 2009 as in 2008. Given that there has been almost no attrition and a sizable incoming class, you can do the math to figure how many people had been told to leave.
This is after and separate from the round of real estate layoffs last year. As far as I know, counsel and all levels of associates in litigation and other departments have been given notice.
At Kaye, instead of severance, you traditionally got 3 months notice. I was given 3 months notice.
Three months’ notice is also what the lawyers who were laid off on Friday received.
In the Friday reduction in force, however, the firm did not go the “stealth” route. First, the laid-off lawyers were told that their dismissals were purely due to economic reasons (which makes sense, since first- and second-year associates don’t have much of a record to be fired over). Second, the firm will be holding a meeting tomorrow to discuss the layoffs, which isn’t very “stealthy.”
Despite the scheduled internal discussion of layoffs, the firm hasn’t responded to our requests for comment (from Friday and from this morning). If we do hear back from them, we’ll update this post.