Thumbnail image for Husch Blackwell logo.JPGFor a Midwestern firm, Husch Blackwell drew a lot of comments (and a huge amount of email) yesterday. Perhaps that had something to do with the fact that firm chairman Dave Fenley

declined to use the term “layoffs” in connection with the firm’s actions, saying the term wrongly implied the attorneys were let go because business at the firm had slackened.

Well, there was a firm-wide meeting yesterday at the large Midwestern firm (yesterday, I incorrectly categorized the firm as “mid-sized” — my bad), and Fenley apologized … almost. A tipster reports:

Fenley admitted being a “bonehead” in his communications yesterday.

But Fenley couldn’t keep his foot out of his mouth for a whole meeting. More wisdom from Husch after the jump.


Later in the meeting, the chairman went right back to the well of corporate spin in the face of overwhelming reality:

These [layoffs] would’ve occurred “regardless of the economy” but the “economy reminded us” that it needed to be done.

So is Fenley saying that he has been dying to fire some of his partners, associates, and staff, and the global economic crisis gave him the perfect excuse to do it? Or is he saying that his firm regularly carries around so much dead weight that he occasionally forgets that it is even there, and it took a global financial meltdown for him to actually pay attention to what was going on at his firm?

Because it doesn’t seem like he’s saying: “These were valued members of our community whose contributions will be missed.” No, it doesn’t sound like he is saying that at all.

As another tipster put it:

St. Louis is essentially a small town and Husch pretty much said publicly that they are firing those attorneys for performance reasons. How are those poor people going to find a job in St. Louis? They already would have had a difficult time due to the economy. Husch is so rude its shocking (or maybe its not shocking because they are so consistent in being rude).

But hey, the firm has no plans to revoke offers to incoming first years! Sounds like a lovely place to work.

Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: Midwest Firms Have Lawyers, Fire Them Too


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