Incisive Media, Texas

What is Texas Afraid Of?

Alamo for cowards.JPGI wanted to circle back to a very interesting piece on AmLaw Daily yesterday. Their article on what Texas law firms are doing during this economic downturn confirms suspicions I’ve had for a little while:

At a time when law firms are more openly announcing and discussing layoff decisions, one group of firms is being particularly mum about job cuts — the Texans….

“It’s an interesting market where, unlike New York and the West Coast, not everybody’s being candid,” says Andrews Kurth managing partner Robert Jewell.

I’m not an expert on Texas culture, but I honestly can’t understand what benefit Texas firms get from hiding their layoffs in this manner. Why would they be more comfortable with the rumors and anonymous sourcing about the extent of their layoffs, as opposed to simply telling the truth?

Are they yella’? Because it seems to me that the forthright and honorable thing to do would involve standing up and admitting the extent to which they’ve had to cut back.

After the jump, AmLaw reports that there might be a little class warfare at play as well.

For reasons passing understanding, it could be that Texas firms are more than happy to give a full sense of the facts when it comes to staff layoffs:

The trend may only apply to lawyers. In February, Winstead disclosed it was laying off 20 staff members in Dallas. But in March, when Texas Lawyer reported online that the firm was laying off lawyers, the firm confirmed the cuts yet declined to provide a number. (Winstead also has canceled its 2009 summer associate program.)

We’ve heard the “nobody cares about staff” line before. But it turns out that people do care about staff — not just about whether or not firms have enough of them, but also how a firm treats staff.

It’s not like these firms are conducting stealth layoffs of their attorneys. That layoffs have occurred, because of economic reasons, is an open fact. But maybe obscuring the overall number of layoffs is still a recruiting ploy. Does it make law students feel safer than they are if they don’t know how many people have been shown the door?

It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, or to Texas legal industry insiders:

Industry experts in Texas are at a loss to explain why the firms there are handling cuts in this way. “It’s curious they’ve done it that way,” says Stephen Mims, a Houston-based recruiter with Prescott Legal Search. “Seems to me if the taboo has been broken by the national firms, I don’t know why they don’t follow the leader.”

Whatever the reason, I don’t think cowering inside the Alamo hoping that the invaders will forget to notice you is what state forefathers had in mind.

Everything’s Louder in Texas, Except the Layoffs [AmLaw Daily]

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