Biglaw, Layoffs, Secretaries / Administrative Assistants, Staff Layoffs

Voluntary Buyout Watch: The Bloom Is Off The Rose At This Firm

As we get closer and closer to the Thanksgiving holiday, staff members and now attorneys — thanks, Patton Boggs — grow more and more worried about the possibility of their own impending doom. This week alone, we’ve seen one firm offer buyouts to employees and another firm hand out pink slips like candy.

And now, with just two weeks until Black Friday, we’ve got some news that’s sure to make employees’ lives at one firm just a little more dim.

Which Biglaw firm is offering voluntary buyouts to a significant chunk of its employees (rumored to be in the triple digits) this time around?

We’ve heard several reports of a voluntary buyout program at Proskauer Rose. Unlike the early retirement incentive that’s being offered at Katten to those ages 55 and up, Proskauer has offered a buyout to every single one of its secretaries and administrative assistants in the firm’s New York office. Sources have told us that staff members must make their decisions by December 30, 2013, and if they choose to take the buyout, their last day at the firm will be on January 10, 2014. That’s a really quick turnaround!

We reached out to the firm, which provided the details of the buyout plan through a spokesperson:

Participants will receive two weeks of salary for every year of service (up to 26 weeks) and a year of paid medical benefits. Participants who have been with the firm for more than 10 years will receive an additional service recognition bonus ($1,000 per year of service for every year with the firm over 10 years).

We understand that technology is king these days, but for a firm that just saw an 8.8 percent year over year increase in profits per partner, this plan seems like it could be a little stingy for those at the lower end of the totem pole in terms of years of service. If you were at Proskauer for only a few years, would you be willing to take a buyout for just a month or two of pay? The very thought makes us cringe. One tipster gets the point across quite nicely: “Happy holidays from the firm that doesn’t value you at all.”

With about 200 jobs at stake, per one of our sources, we wish those affected at Proskauer Rose the best of luck, whether they choose to remain at the firm or choose to enter the unemployment line.

If your firm is reducing the ranks of its lawyers or staff, whether through open layoffs or stealth layoffs or voluntary buyouts, let us know. You can email us or text us (646-820-8477). Thanks.

UPDATE (11/19/2013, 1 p.m.): According to Law360, Proskauer offered buyouts to 115 employees based in New York City.

Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: Patton Boggs Slims Down For The Holidays
Voluntary Buyout Watch: Because Computers Are Better Employees Than You

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