Squire Sanders logo.JPGSquire, Sanders & Dempsey already deferred its incoming class of 2009 to January 2010. Yesterday, the firm informed half of those incoming associates that they were getting the Bird — i.e., the firm indefinitely deferred half of its incoming class.
But before the firm decides what it will do with half of its incoming associates, Squire Sanders needs to make a decision about whether to keep its current associates. SSD’s chairman, James J. Maiwurm, told associates to expect layoffs over the next 45 days.
Above the Law has received the official Squire Sanders statement. Take a look after the jump.


Squire Sanders released a statement yesterday. Here’s the pertinent part for current, and would-be, SSD associates:

In connection with his presentation, Maiwurm also announced the firm plans to defer approximately half of the new associates class now scheduled to start in January 2010. The firm will also closely review its existing capacity. Maiwurm said he expects that, over the next 45 days, there will be further timekeeper reductions based on both performance and lower client demand for certain services in various practices and locations. The number of reductions has not yet been determined. Based on current assessments, the firm expects the reductions to be in the range of 20-25 worldwide. Maiwurm noted that, “Although we benefit from the diversity of our platform and practice base, we are not immune from the continuing unprecedented conditions affecting our clients and the legal industry generally. We regret having to plan to take these steps and we feel we owe our associates as much transparency as possible regarding the steps we might have to take.”

Incoming associates — at least the ones that were indefinitely deferred — didn’t take the news well. One tipster reports:

To me these slash and burn techniques and complete disregard for their reputation in the legal community demonstrates just how in trouble this firm really is.
The timing of this is what really hurts. By now we have all passed on any other opportunities we may have had, and the few jobs that were available are gone. … I have been up all night unable to sleep, trying to figure out what to do with my life…

Imagine how current associates must feel. The Sword of Damocles isn’t a very good bedtime story.
Hang in there, SSD friends. Some of you will get out of this just fine.
Read the full Squire Sanders statement below.
SQUIRE, SANDERS & DEMPSEY — STATEMENT
Cleveland, New York, Washington D.C. (20 October 2009) – On Tuesday, October 20,
2009, the leadership of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey L.L.P. held conference calls with
associates worldwide as part of the firm’s ongoing practice of updating associates.
James J. Maiwurm, who recently became the Chair of the firm, and other partners
commented on the firm’s new leadership structure, the state of the legal industry, and the firm’s performance year to date. With regard to the latter, Maiwurm and others reported that the firm’s performance is consistent with and perhaps relatively better than that of peer firms and emphasized in this regard the benefits of the firm’s diverse global platform and practice strengths.
The meetings included presentations concerning initiatives and investments the firm has
undertaken to emphasize and enhance the firm’s value proposition to clients. One program related to the firm’s value initiatives is movement from a predominantly “lockstep” associate compensation system in the United States to one based on demonstrated mastery of specific skills. The discussion of the new associate development and compensation system emphasized that the new system will be designed to both better measure and reward associate performance and value contribution and assure clients that billing rates are based on demonstrated growth in skills, expertise and judgment.
In connection with his presentation, Maiwurm also announced the firm plans to defer
approximately half of the new associates class now scheduled to start in January 2010. The firm will also closely review its existing capacity. Maiwurm said he expects that, over the next 45 days, there will be further timekeeper reductions based on both performance and lower client demand for certain services in various practices and locations. The number of reductions has not yet been determined. Based on current assessments, the firm expects the reductions to be in the range of 20-25 worldwide. Maiwurm noted that, “Although we benefit from the diversity of our platform and practice base, we are not immune from the continuing unprecedented conditions affecting our clients and the legal industry generally. We regret having to plan to take these steps and we feel we owe our associates as much transparency as possible regarding the steps we might have to take.”
About Squire Sanders: Founded in 1890, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey L.L.P. has lawyers in 32 offices and 15 countries around the world. With one of the strongest integrated global platforms and a longstanding one-firm philosophy, Squire Sanders provides seamless legal counsel worldwide.
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