Alright, this is getting ridiculous. Last week, no real layoffs until Ropes & Gray got busted doing stealth layoffs at 11:00 on Friday morning. This column closes Friday afternoon, usually. We actually submitted yet another version celebrating the first week of the year without layoffs. Then Weil Gotshal went and laid off 79 staff. We’ll have to save the celebration for next week (hopefully – although we’re planning to be on the golf course, not writing).
So back to the usual roundup.
As in the general US market, the rate of law-firm layoffs (or first-time benefit applications) continues to drop, even though unemployment numbers continue to rise. So most of the cutting may be behind us, even if the growth and hiring haven’t kicked in yet. Still, this recession is far and away the worst of the past 40 years, from a jobs perspective. Check out Clusterstock for interesting chart that shows employment levels are continuing to decline 15 months after the current recession began, a point by which the 1980 recession had completely reversed its losses, 1974-76 was almost back to pre-recession levels, and the others had at least flattened out if not started trending upwards. Elie will continue to monitor Latvian hookers for signs of life. In the economy.
After the jump, there were a few other near-layoffs this week and the usual non-layoff cost-cutting measures.
On the plus side, this week does set a new record low for the year. We came close last week, with just 148 layoffs. Coincidentally, that was the same number as the first week of the year (and the first edition of This Week in Layoffs). Prior to this week, the week ending April 17 was the lowest, when 121 people were laid off from major law firms.
There were a few "near" layoffs this week (although an inch is as close as a mile to those who have been affected – pardon the expression).
- Clifford Chance almost certainly will be announcing layoffs of NY litigation associates. The firm’s litigation head resigned in connection with the news. The firm has already had 11 diferent layoffs, far and away #1 on the ranking of firms by the number of rounds of layoffs. They’ve also laid off 426 people in total, 225 lawyers, 201 staff – good for #4 on the total layoff list, and #3 by number of lawyers laid off. There are 29 associates in the group, who, together with the staff supporting them, have been notified that layoffs are imminent.
- Covington & Burling is cutting back its staff-attorney program. The firm said " As competitive marketplace alternatives to the staff attorney model have increased, we have fewer projects and have released staff attorneys we are unable to assign." That means one of two things: there isn’t enough work for associates, so they’re getting some of the work that would have gone to staff attorneys, or the work isn’t going to the firm at all, as clients are outsourcing. Either way, we don’t have a solid number yet, although the affected are being paid modest severance. (Law Shucks treats staff-attorneys as staff, as opposed to attorneys, for the Layoff Tracker, by the way).
- Stealth layoffs continue unabated. This is something we wrote about a long time ago, and ATL has further anecdotal information about the vagaries of performance standards in tough markets in the wake of Ropes & Gray’s outing. A few of the comments in that thread are particularly worthwhile, so if you’re feeling bold, venture in.
- This one is purely clerical, but Herbert Smith completed its redundancy consultation, laying off 84 people (82 volunteered, 2 didn’t). We just don’t have the heart to sully this week’s no hitter with a technicality. Also for the record, when numbers like this are finalized, we update the original number in the tracker as of the date of announcement, so it doesn’t get counted twice.
As usual, the analysis continues on Law Shucks, with updates on other cost-cutting measures taken by law firms this week, plus the updates on the weekly, monthly, and annual total. Also, the monthly recap will probably get written at some point this weekend, so keep an eye out for that.