Many longtime observers of the legal profession argue that it’s not what it once was and that it’s increasingly focused on the bottom line. But even when trying to improve the bottom line, many law firms go about it in a kindler, gentler manner. Traces of Biglaw’s gentility remain.
Today we have news of another firm that’s reducing its ranks — not through layoffs, but through generous voluntary buyout packages….
The firm in question is Schulte Roth & Zabel. Things seem to be going well on the attorney side; the firm hosted a fun and successful summer associate program, culminating in a 100 percent offer rate. But like many other law firms, SRZ seems to have a surplus of support staff.
To address the issue, Schulte Roth recently offered voluntary buyout packages to all of its secretaries. We heard the news from several sources and confirmed it this afternoon in a conversation with Alan Waldenberg, chair of the firm’s executive committee.
In terms of numbers, the firm hopes that 20 to 30 secretaries will accept the buyouts, resulting in a more optimal lawyer-to-secretary ratio. The severance is generous, consisting of (1) a lump-sum payment of $10,000, (2) an additional one week’s pay for every year of service, and (3) health care benefits for a year (through COBRA). The firm wanted to make the package appealing enough to encourage acceptances.
The Schulte package sounds ample to us, but we’re no longer in the Biglaw trenches. We’d love to hear from readers who have either accepted or rejected one of the voluntary buyouts that many major firms have offered in recent years. If you’d be willing to walk us through your calculations, please email us (subject line: “Voluntary Buyouts”) or text us (646-820-8477). We’re happy to keep you and your firm anonymous; we’d just like to get a better sense of which people are well-situated to take early retirement or a buyout and which people are not. Thanks.