Nationwide Layoff Watch: Latham & Watkins Is Going For It

Latham Watkins LLP lw logo.jpgThere have been a lot of rumors about impending layoffs at Latham & Watkins. Major layoffs. The firm has not responded to our multiple requests for comment, but here is the best information we’ve been able to collect over the past few days.

We’re hearing that at least 70 – 150 people will be laid off from Latham. We believe that it is all going to go down this Friday.

The layoffs will primarily affect the offices in New York, Chicago, D.C., Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Conference rooms have been booked in all of those cities for Friday the 27th. The conference room schedule, which is available online for all Latham associates to see, is how most people are finding out about the layoffs coming at the end of this week. A tipster reports:

The online conference scheduler for Latham’s NY office has multiple rooms in the conference center checked out for all of Friday to Dave Gordon (L&W NY’s office managing partner), with multiple adjacent conference rooms checked out to the head of HR, as well as the head of the technology department. This is clearly not a typical occurrence.

We understand that partners in the New York office have been very open about the fact that a large number of people will be let go, and first-years are far from safe.

And while LW doesn’t seem to want to talk about this publicly, firm management has already decided on which people will be let go. The list will be given to the full partnership sometime tomorrow.

Why is Latham being silent about layoffs that everybody already seems to know about? We offer some historical context after the jump.

It’s worth remembering that less than a year ago, Latham made a “no layoff promise.” At the time, we reported:

Last Wednesday, managing partner Bob Dell gave his State of the Firm address via videoconference. Dell went over the firm’s great financial success for 2007 (firm revenue went up a whopping 23%, far exceeding all other major firms).

He also addressed the challenges ahead for 2008. He specifically addressed the issue of layoffs. He said multiple times that he believed it would be a bad business decision to lay off associates. Latham made that mistake in 1990 and Dell said the layoffs hurt their profitability after the recession was over. Dell said “there will be no layoffs” and that it was not even on the table for discussion.

Could it be that a bad business decision in 2008 is a necessary business decision in 2009? Or could it be that Latham is still so cognizant of layoffs they conducted nearly 20 years ago that they are trying to keep Friday’s moves as quiet as possible?

Either way, our Latham sources are not impressed by the way Latham is handling the current crisis:

Frankly, morale is pretty shot to hell, since we all feel that the axe will fall, and are now just waiting for it.

It’s pretty sad to say at a firm that sold itself to many of us on its transparency that many of us have learned more about the state of the firm from ATL than from the vaunted partner-associate management system.

At some point, we imagine that Latham will have to “announce” these layoffs. We’ll bring you the news when they do.

Earlier: Stealth Layoffs Open Thread: Latham & Watkins

Latham & Watkins Profits Per Partner Drop Significantly

What’s Up at Latham & Watkins? (Morale – thanks to a ‘no layoffs’ promise.)

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