Skadden logo.JPGIs Skadden hurting more than people think? First, we learned that the firm was extending its Sidebar program in an effort to get associates to take a year off. On Friday, we reported that Skadden laid off over 50 staffers and greatly reduced its staff attorney program.

Above the Law just received a memo indicating that Skadden’s current first-year associates are being shipped over to litigation, for as long as six months. Here’s an excerpt from the memo that was sent to first-year corporate associates at Skadden tday:

Our first year program will now include a six month litigation component in which you will work under the direct supervision of lawyers from the general litigation, white collar, intellectual property/patent, antitrust and/or mass torts groups, both from the New York office and other firm offices. In order to implement this program fairly, all corporate associates will participate in the litigation component. One group will rotate into litigation in early April while the others will proceed to their previously scheduled “second” corporate rotation. In October, the groups will switch and those who were in the litigation rotation will be rotated to their other corporate rotation and those who have completed their second corporate rotation will rotate into the litigation rotation. We anticipate final assignments will occur in May 2010.

A six-month rotation through litigation for new corporate attorneys just starting their careers sounds like a polite way of saying, “we simply don’t have enough work to justify having all of these people hanging around.” When you couple that with the Sidebar program and the staffing cuts, this new information is sure to make people worried.

At least it’s better than layoffs. More after the jump.


We’re sure that Skadden corporate associates would much rather have a litigation job over no job at all. But you have to wonder if there will be any long-term career impact on the SASMF first-years who thought they were going to be corporate attorneys. Some associates who wanted to do corporate work will find themselves in the litigation department as late as May 2010.

And, while they are moonlighting as litigators, can they expect to get better work than any of the people who wanted to do litigation? People who came into Skadden as litigators have already established themselves with partners and senior associates with their work during the summer and over the past few months. Why would you give a “I don’t really want to be here” litigator anything other than the most mind-numbing document review you have?

Skadden spokespeople did not respond to our request for comment.

This is not good news for junior Skadden corporate attorneys. It’s better news than “layoffs,” but it’s not ideal.

Read the full memo below.

SKADDEN ARPS — MEMORANDUM — 2008 CORPORATE ASSOCIATES

TO: Fall 2008 Corporate Associates

FROM: Tom Kennedy

RE: Important Rotation Information

The corporate rotation program is designed to provide new associates with a background in at least two corporate areas. The expectation is that this exposure will help develop a skill set which will provide a better understanding of general corporate legal work. Given the prevailing economic environment, these anticipated development opportunities have been more limited than in the past. To address this issue, the relative underutilization of first year corporate associates, and with the firm belief that first year legal work should serve to set the groundwork for a set of skills that all lawyers need, we are introducing a litigation component to the program. In addition this will assist our litigation departments with their staffing needs.

Our first year program will now include a six month litigation component in which you will work under the direct supervision of lawyers from the general litigation, white collar, intellectual property/patent, antitrust and/or mass torts groups, both from the New York office and other firm offices. In order to implement this program fairly, all corporate associates will participate in the

litigation component. One group will rotate into litigation in early April while the others will proceed to their previously scheduled “second” corporate rotation. In October, the groups will switch and those who were in the litigation rotation will be rotated to their other corporate rotation and those who have completed their second corporate rotation will rotate into the litigation rotation. We anticipate final assignments will occur in May 2010.

We will offer litigation training at the start of each rotation. During the course of the litigation rotation, you will continue to be advised of and participate in various corporate training programs and events. Additionally, the corporate groups will continue to assist our Restructuring practice with their staffing needs on an ad hoc basis.

You will receive additional information early next week with specifics about your assignment. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact [Redacted] or me.

Earlier: Staff Layoff Watch: The Bell Tolls for Skadden Staff

Skadden Offers a Voluntary Deferral Option


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