Biglaw, Layoffs, Staff Attorneys / Discovery Attorneys, Staff Layoffs

Nationwide Layoff Watch: Staff Attorneys Getting Shafted

Are staff attorneys closer to support staff or associates? They fall somewhere in between. They have law degrees and practice law, but they don’t enjoy the pay and partnership prospects of associates.

And staff attorneys are more susceptible to layoffs. Although we’ve heard reports of associate and partner layoffs — which are definitely under-reported, due to the stealthy way in which they’re generally conducted, often with confidentiality agreements — staffers are getting hit harder. And that includes staff attorneys.

We now bring you word of one leading law firm’s double-digit cuts to its staff attorney program….

Here is what we’ve heard about reductions at WilmerHale:

  • Earlier this month, the firm laid off at least 14 staff attorneys in its East Coast offices.
  • Layoffs were based on tenure, and the reason given for the cuts was a reduction in the size of the staff attorney program.
  • The remaining staff attorneys have been orally advised that no additional layoffs are planned at the current time.

We reached out to WilmerHale for comment, and a spokesperson confirmed the facts listed above.

As noted, the layoffs were based on seniority. A tipster told us that the laid-off lawyers were “mostly junior people — [including some] top performers.”

A second source said that “people are skeptical” of the “no more layoffs” reassurance — and one can understand why. Such promises have been broken by Biglaw in the past. Of course, one person’s “broken promise” is another person’s “regrettable response to changed circumstances.” And we live in times of major change for the world of Biglaw.

If you have layoff news to share, please email us or text us (646-820-8477). As always, we maintain the confidentiality of our sources. Thanks.

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of layoffs

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