Were the layoffs at Weil Gotshal the start of a Biglaw trend? You be the judge. In the days and weeks after the Weil winnowing, Jones Day “eliminated” about 65 staff positions, Goodwin Procter shuttered its San Diego office, 16 secretaries were the victims of “reductions” at Winston & Strawn, WilmerHale allegedly conducted stealth attorney layoffs in its IP litigation department, and Davis Polk offered support staff some beautiful buyouts. Heck, even LexisNexis and BARBRI decided to get into the layoffs game.
Today, just as we roll into the weekend, we’ve got even more layoff news. One of the biggest law firms in Connecticut, one that last conducted layoffs at the start of the recession, is handing out walking papers to as many as 40 of its attorneys and staff members. Which firm, and why?
Hot on the heels of bringing in its largest associate class to date, Day Pitney, a merger product of Day Berry & Howard and Pitney Hardin, is laying off about 10 attorneys and up to 30 staff members. According to sources, most of those affected hail from the commercial litigation department. The attorney cuts do not affect partners — only associates and counsel were pink slipped. Stanley A. Twardy Jr., the firm’s managing partner, refused to say what prompted the layoffs “out of respect for those affected,” but noted that the staff layoffs were spread firmwide, across all Day Pitney offices.
A spokeswoman for the firm released a statement obtained last night by the Connecticut Law Tribune:
“As the legal industry changes, we continue to evaluate and reshape our staff to better align with industry norms and client expectations for excellence,” said the statement, which was released by Day Pitney spokeswoman Xenia Koblarez. “This reduction, which brings us more in line with industry-wide attorney/staff ratios, affects about 30 employees.”
The layoffs, she continued, “affect about 30 staff immediately and fewer than 10 attorneys. Those attorneys will remain with the firm until a date yet to be announced, in November.”
So it sounds like the lawyers are still somewhat in limbo. At least the staff members involved are getting an immediate sense of closure, if nothing else.
Industry consultant Peter Giuliani of Weston says he expects more layoffs like those at Day Pitney to come in the future, noting that “clients are continuing to put more push back on rates and staffing levels, and to some degree they are pushing back on the amount of associates that are working on their legal matters.” The layoffs, he says, are simply a method of responding to client pressures.
While that’s not a very comforting note to enter the weekend on, we still have hope for the future of Biglaw. It’s true that we’ve entered a new normal, but some day, the layoffs will come to an end. For now, we extend our condolences to all those who will never live to see the light of Day again.
Is your firm conducting layoffs, stealth or otherwise? If you have information to share, about Day Pitney or any other notable law firm, feel free to email us or text us (646-820-8477).
UPDATE (1:20 p.m.): A former Day Pitney lawyer who got laid off in the past few years contacted us to claim that the firm has been conducting annual stealth layoffs over the past five years, the once-thriving New York office is now basically a conference center, and the New Jersey office building (the former Pitney Hardin headquarters) has shrunk so much that everyone could fit in one floor of the current space.
Day Pitney Lays Off As Many As 40 Staffers And Attorneys [Connecticut Law Tribune]
Day Pitney is laying off 40 attorneys and staff [ABA Journal]