Biglaw, Layoffs, Secretaries / Administrative Assistants, Severance, Staff Layoffs

Nationwide Layoff Watch: Law Firm Spreads Holiday Jeers, Trims Ranks Like Turkey

November marks the beginning of the holiday season, and people are brainstorming about what they should be thankful for so they’ll have something thoughtful to say at the Thanksgiving dinner table. We’ve got a suggestion: you should be thankful that you’ve still got a job, because some of your colleagues aren’t so lucky.

Which Biglaw firm offered a significant number of employees a cornucopia of despair yesterday?

Fried Frank announced yesterday that it would be trimming its ranks due to “evolving market conditions,” eliminating about 29 staff members in its New York and Washington, D.C. offices. Those affected include legal secretaries, library services personnel, and legal assistants.

We reached out to Fried Frank, which declined to comment on its ongoing personnel issues, but co-chairs David Greenwald and Valerie Ford Jacob issued a firm-wide memo yesterday with some of the pertinent details for those affected by the staffing cuts:

Dear All,

Today we have taken the difficult step to reduce our support staff by 29 people across the NY and DC offices. Like many other firms, we have taken this action to align our resources with evolving market conditions, technological advances and operational efficiencies. If you have questions about these developments, we encourage you to discuss them with a partner or director.

Those affected will be provided with severance pay, health benefits and career transition assistance. We thank them for their many contributions to the Firm and wish them the best in the future.

David J. Greenwald and Valerie Ford Jacob

As usual, the staff layoffs are being blamed on “technological advances and operational efficiencies.” Call us crazy, but we think these layoffs might have had more to do with the “evolving market conditions” than anything else. After all, Fried Frank posted an incredibly disappointing 16.8 percent drop in profits per partner — which was by far the sharpest decline of all of the firms in the latest Am Law 100 rankings.

We understand the firm is offering three months of pay and three months of medical as severance. At least Fried Frank is offering a severance package that seems… “reasonable.” We have “reasonable” in quotes here because we don’t find it reasonable for firms to to conduct layoffs before major holidays.

We wish those affected at Fried Frank the best of luck as they try to make it through the holiday season with this depressing news, and while they seek new opportunities, whether in the legal field or beyond.

Is your firm conducting layoffs, stealth or otherwise? If you have information to share, about layoffs at Fried Frank or any other notable law firm, feel free to email us or text us (646-820-8477).

Earlier: Prior coverage of law firm layoffs
The 2013 Am Law 100: A Year of ‘Slow Growth’

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