One casualty of the economic recession could well be the position of “staff attorney.” We’ve reported that Skadden and Covington & Burling have had major cuts to their staff attorney programs. Above the Law is now able to report that similar reductions have happened at Paul Weiss. Sources report that at least a dozen staff attorneys have been let go by Paul Weiss over the past couple of months.
UPDATE: We are now hearing reports that the number is significantly higher than a dozen, perhaps as high as 45 (since November 2008). “This can all be confirmed by the lawyer lists that are sent out at the start of each month,” said our source.
A tipster puts it this way:
PW has sneakily let go [a number of] staff attorneys. There have been … cuts in the past few months and it is getting more steady and consistent in the last few weeks. They are letting a few people go every week. It is so ridiculous that they haven’t told anyone what’s really going on and everyone is just waiting around for the call.
Apparently they need to cut all the staff attorneys so they have some work for 80 or so first years that just started who are already doing nothing but doc review and who should expect to be doing nothing but doc review for the foreseeable future. Some of these staff attorneys have been there for seven and eight years and they are not even offering severance. They say it has nothing to do with performance but are letting some of the good people go first.
Paul Weiss declined to comment for this story. But we understand that no associates have been let go.
Are junior associates the new “staff attorney”? More from our tipsters after the jump.
When I was a child, I learned that the dinosaurs were wiped out in the Chicxulub meteor impact. Then I learned that some dinosaurs evolved into birds, making the nasty and pathetic common pigeon a descendant of the magnificent beasts.
Are we seeing a similar extinction/evolution breakdown with the staff attorney position? Paul Weiss has avoided mass layoffs, deferred start dates, and salary cuts. That is great news for the firm’s young attorneys. But is the firm making it rain by letting go off staff attorneys and putting first years on the case? A Paul Weiss tipster thinks so:
It is interesting how the Staff Attorney program had been fine until PW stupidly decided to take on all their first years so it would appear the firm is doing well, but in reality, they can’t afford to have overpaid first years sitting around without work so they are choosing the path with the least amount of reputation risk and cutting the Staff Attorneys who are actually more profitable. It is a big mess over at PW. People should be aware about the smoke and mirrors before they interview and end up doing doc review for their first two years.
It seems to me that there are tons of associates out on the street who would gladly do doc review for a couple of years just to have a job.
And we haven’t even brought up outsourcing.
It certainly looks like the staff attorney is going the way of the dinosaur; hopefully some of them will be able to grow some wings.
Earlier: Covington & Burling Staff Attorneys: An Endangered Species?
Staff Layoff Watch: The Bell Tolls for Skadden Staff