Biglaw, Citigroup, Layoffs, Peter Lattman, Pregnancy / Paternity

Nationwide Layoff Watch: Boies Schiller
(But query whether these were really ‘layoffs.’)

This morning brought more lawyer layoff news. As reported by Peter Lattman over at DealBook, David Boies’s celebrated litigation firm, Boies Schiller, last week laid off three associates.

(The DealBook piece refers to the dismissals as “layoffs,” and we’ve used that terminology in the title of this post and the first paragraph. But whether these terminations should be considered true “layoffs” is open to question — please keep reading.)

As noted in Am Law Daily, the three associates “worked on the firm’s representation of British private equity firm Terra Firma in its unsuccessful civil suit against Citigroup.” Now that the three-week trial is over, presumably the firm felt it could let the women go — and perhaps make them the “fall guys” (or gals) for the adverse result.

Two of three associates used to work in the firm’s former office in Short Hills, New Jersey. After that office was spun off last year into what is now Stone & Magnanini, the two jumped across the Hudson to join the New York office of Boies. So perhaps they didn’t have powerful patrons at BSF – NYC to protect them from the ax.

There’s also a bit of backstory here, which didn’t make it into the reports of DealBook, Am Law Daily, and the ABA Journal….

As noted in the DealBook piece, Boies Schiller is busy — and even in hiring mode. As a Boies spokesperson told the Times, “We are making significant investments in hiring new associates.”

So why did the firm let go of three seasoned associates, at a time when it needs extra manpower? This personnel move doesn’t sound like a traditional layoff, in which a firm with insufficient business decides to downsize its staff.

And perhaps it wasn’t a traditional layoff (i.e., one driven by economic necessity). One rumor making the rounds is that one of the laid-off associates was a whistleblower of sorts. She supposedly lodged a complaint, in written form (an email), about the firm’s cumbersome document management system. She suggested that use of this DMS made working with documents unnecessarily time-consuming — and potentially costly to clients.

This complaint was not well-received by BSF partners, some of whom are quite wedded to the firm’s DMS (for reasons that have also been the subject of speculation). Shortly thereafter, she found herself on the receiving end of a termination.

Some other reports we’re hearing about the Boies Schiller dismissals:

  • The three associates were well-regarded at the firm; one source told us they did “really great work.”
  • One of the three is several months pregnant. So, after pulling numerous late nights working on the grueling Terra Firma trial, this expectant mother now finds herself without a job.
  • The three associates were not given the usual few weeks to wrap up their affairs (and to try and find new jobs while still holding their current ones). They are already gone from the firm — which also suggests their dismissals shouldn’t be seen as ordinary “layoffs.”
  • Since the dismissals went down, there has been a great deal of upheaval in BSF’s New York office. The three associates were very well-liked, and some of their fellow associates are deeply upset over what happened.

Boies Schiller spokeswoman Dawn Schneider — who also recently found herself in the news — told DealBook: “The firm does not comment or publicly discuss internal personnel matters.”

So what are we missing here? If you have additional information about this story, please feel free to email us (subject line: “Boies Schiller”).

Boies Schiller Dismisses 3 Lawyers [DealBook / New York Times]
Report: Boies Schilller Axes Three Associates [Am Law Daily]
Boies Schiller Lays Off 3 Associates Who Worked in Losing EMI Trial [ABA Journal]

(hidden for your protection)

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