Staff Attorneys / Discovery Attorneys, Staff Layoffs

Staff Layoff Watch: The Bell Tolls for Skadden Staff

Skadden logo.JPGLike many of you, we’ve heard the rumors about significant staffing cuts at Skadden all week. We now understand that all of the affected individuals have been informed, and we can now appreciate the scope of Skadden’s actions. Here is the bad news for Skadden staff:

* We understand that over 50 legal support staffers have been let go from the firm.

* In addition to those support staffers, the staff attorney program at Skadden has been greatly reduced. Only staff attorneys that were “integral” to ongoing matters have been kept on. And there is no word on whether those people will have any job security after their matters wrap up.

* The cuts were spread across all of Skadden’s U.S. offices, but at this point international offices remain unscathed.

* No associates were let go.

At some level, staffing cuts at Skadden are not surprising. Last week, we reported that two major Skadden DC partners were leaving the firm. We now understand that they took ten associates with them. We understand that associates participation in the Sidebar program has been very strong. It is a bit too early to tell what the final numbers will be for participation in that program, but our sources report that one of the reasons for the strong early numbers is that Skadden partners are using their contacts to find objectively interesting public service opportunities.

Still, fewer attorneys was bound to lead to fewer staff.

Of course, that doesn’t mean laid off staff are happy with the situation.

One (former) Skadden tipster we talked to put it this way:

It’s pretty pathetic to take staff attorneys- many who were working 10 to 12 hour days and replace them with first year no nothings and pay them 160 the business model is broken ; while partners try to justify their existence making 2m a year who don’t generate any business.

Of course, other tipsters felt that Skadden’s top-of-the-market associate bonus cost them their jobs:

I hope law school babies enjoy all the copying that extra $17,000 bought them.

Cutting nearly all staff attorneys and laying off a significant amount of other legal support staffers is a major move for a top firm like Skadden.

But do these cuts (and the concurrent Sidebar Program participation) ensure that Skadden associates are safe? Or is this disturbing writing on the wall? One associate we texted with feels that the fast track to partnership has opened up:

Sidebar, staff cuts, “move *****, get out the way.” More for me.

Right now Skadden is locked in a tight battle with Paul Weiss in our Safest Firms bracket. Voting goes through Sunday, if this news influences your opinion one way or the other.

Good luck to all the displaced Skadden staffers out there. You’ve got a lot of company.

Earlier: Musical Chairs: Skadden Partners Jumping Ship

Skadden Offers a Voluntary Deferral Option

ATL March Madness for Law Firms, Round 2 (Part 1): The Sweet Sixteen

Associate Bonus Watch: Here Comes Skadden

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