Many regular Above the Law readers will remember that Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft laid off nearly 100 attorneys, back before laying off attorneys became cool. More recently, the firm put 34 associates on an involuntary sabbatical.
Cadwalader is still willing to give jobs to the 34 people let go earlier this month. Contract jobs. Multiple sources inform us that CWT is trying to bring on a gang of contract attorneys. But instead of just picking up any old person with a spare J.D. lying around, the firm is giving the right of first refusal to its former associates.
Here’s how a Cadwalader spokesperson described the initiative:
As part of our sabbatical program, Cadwalader is committed to helping affected attorneys in every way possible, from helping them to identify new job opportunities to providing them with resume writing and interview tips. We have alerted them to more than 60 job opportunities, helped to arrange more than 20 interviews, and are aware of three job offers. As part of our efforts to engage them at the firm when possible, we recently received a client request for assistance on an expanded document review project with tight deadlines. Rather than consider other staffing solutions as we might have in the past, we first offered these lawyers the opportunity to work on the matter. We will continue to help these talented individuals in whatever ways we can.
Would you go back to work for your old firm as a contract attorney? Before you answer, you have to take a look at the pay CWT is offering.
More details after the jump.
Now, it might be tempting for laid off former CWT associates to show some dignity and turn down the opportunity to do contract work. But the money is good. Really good. Our sources report that CWT is offering between $45 and $65 per hour.
Anybody who has been out on the street looking for legal work over the past few months can tell you that $65 an hour is a really good rate for contract work. So — as Marsellus Wallace might say — don’t let pride mess with you. If you don’t have a job because Cadwalader canned you, going back to the firm with little status and no prestige could be the financially sound move.
For those of us who are not trying to calculate the fair market value of our self-respect, we have to ask if this Cadwalader program is a sign of things to come? Cadwalader was clearly one of the first firms to realize that layoffs needed to happen. Are they also one of the first firms to realize that the associate model is dead?
We could be moving to a place where law firms are populated by partners, a few choice associates, and a gang of contract attorneys that can be added or subtracted as work demands. Is Cadwalader going to lead the way to a new and slightly terrifying future?
Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: Cadwalader offers ‘sabbaticals’ to 34 lawyers
Breaking: Cadwalader Announces Layoffs of 96 Lawyers!