Salary Cuts, Staff Layoffs

Nationwide Salary Cut Watch: Firms in the Pacific Northwest Also Feel Gloomy

Salary Cuts.jpgAbove the Law has received reports that Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt will be cutting associate salaries and laying off staff. Never heard of Schwabe Williamson? Well then you need to Lewis & Clark your way out to the Pacific Northwest more often.
Schwabe Williamson is the second largest firm in Portland, OR. According to NALP, the firm has 170 attorneys across six offices (3 in Oregon, 2 in Washington, and an office in Washington, D.C.).
First year associates start at $110,000 at Schwabe. This fact already bothers junior attorneys there, and our tipsters report grounds for increased dissatisfaction among the rank and file:

SWW will be announcing pay cuts for its associate attorneys in the range of 5% – 10% on June 15th.

At least the associates should still have jobs. The news for the staff is much worse. We understand that a number of staffers are going to be let go, but we don’t have official numbers.
Staffers that we spoke with felt that there were other cuts the firm could have made before the firm started firing people.
More details and an official statement from the firm after the jump.

Schwabe Williamson Wyatt logo.JPGStaffers — some of whom were caught in this round of layoffs — feel that the firm’s budgetary decisions are not adding up:

SWW is attributing these pay cuts and lay-offs to the difficult financial times wrought by this economy, even though they have just hired a half dozen summer associates and will undoubtedly wine and dine them on the firm’s dime for the next 8-10 weeks in an attempt to impress the summers about what a fabulous firm SWW is.

Staffers also contend that they suggested scaling back the firm’s Holiday party this year, in an effort to save money:

These cuts in pay and in jobs come on the heels of a staff member’s proposal that the firm scale back on social events (such as the lavish attorney/client Christmas party rumored to have cost $60,000 and the annual summer event that the firm hosts for all employees), but the proposal was rejected outright by the firm’s financial heads, insisting that these events are beneficial for the employees in order to promote a sense of friendliness and comraderie. (Personally, I think SWW employees would have felt a greater sense of comraderie if they had been allowed to keep their jobs, health insurance, full salaries, etc., in lieu of a few badly catered events.)

But a Schwabe spokesperson furnished Above the Law with the following statement, contending that this year’s Holiday party was an economically conscious affair:

Your information about our holiday party is incorrect. At no time is it more important than now to embrace and deepen relationships with our clients, whether at a party or one-on-one. On that basis, we elected to proceed with a downscaled version of the party.

With regards to the layoffs and salary cuts, the firm had this to say:

Today, Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt has chosen to implement some strategic initiatives that are designed to enhance the value of our service to and relationships with clients, as well as our competitiveness in the legal marketplace. Consistent with the principles that have long guided the decision-making processes in the firm, no class of individuals was untouched. Some of these initiatives involve restructuring of some positions, elimination of others, and certain budgetary adjustments.

As we’ve mentioned before, regional firms are no longer safe from the Great Recession. It’s bad all over. It’s time to go into hyper-sleep and wake up in 2012.
Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: Bass Berry Lays Off 32 Employees
Staying Competitive During an Economic Downturn

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