Interesting things are afoot at Kasowitz Benson these days. Last month, we wrote about the prominent litigation firm’s “benchmark” bonuses — which some tipsters told us were bogus, but other sources defended (see the updates to the post).
Over the weekend, we received a cryptic tip about KBTF: “Kasowitz will be laying off a large number on Monday. From staff all the way up to partner.”
It’s now the end of the business day. Has this prediction come to pass?
(Please note the multiple UPDATES added to this post after its original publication.)
After we first received this tip, we reached out to our existing network of Kasowitz sources. They didn’t have anything concrete for us last night, but they didn’t rule out the prediction either:
- “I’ve heard similar rumors. I hear just a few people, and nothing more than ‘dead wood.'”
- “I haven’t heard anything, but it wouldn’t be surprising — it’s not a secret that business was slowing down.”
Recall also the comment from the prior bonus post: “Rumor has it that firm did not have a good year.”
Based on events that happened today, we now have the following information. First, we have confirmed reports of at least two senior associates and two staff attorneys being terminated. Four might not sound like a lot, but it seems to be just the tip of the iceberg. And four lawyers is still notable; as regular readers have noticed, most recent layoff stories have focused on staff, especially secretaries.
Second, we have unconfirmed reports of anywhere between 24 and 30 lawyers being asked to leave — a number that would seem to go beyond mere “dead wood.” Affected lawyers include staff attorneys, associates, and yes, partners.
Third, severance is being provided, in the form of three months of pay. But people are being told to pack up their offices today; this is not a situation where folks can work out of the firm offices for a few weeks or even months while they look for new positions.
What’s the environment like over there? “People are in a panic,” said one source. “After weak bonuses, this place is full of high anxiety levels.”
We reached out to Kasowitz Benson for comment, yesterday and again today, but have not yet heard back. We will update this story if and when we receive additional information, whether from the firm itself or from other sources. If you have information to share, please email us or text us (646-820-8477). Thanks.
UPDATE (5:43 p.m.): One source claims that the reaction is overblown: there’s “no panic, but certainly concern about the firm’s position going forward.”
Another source offers this dramatic description:
It’s not just associates and staff attorneys; some partners were cut, too. Apparently, phones and e-mails were shut down during the firing meetings. Firees told to pack up their offices today and that they would not be permitted back in the building. Three months’ severance — health insurance getting cut off as soon as next week….
Internal memo just went out; something about reducing headcount in certain areas and “comprehensive severance.” Grim mood in the office, as you can imagine.
We’re trying to get our hands on the memo from Marc Kasowitz. We will update if and when we succeed.
UPDATE (5:55 p.m.): Weak associate bonuses weren’t the only warning sign:
Staff was upset by the shift to a merit-based bonus system and [the shift] this year to a post-holiday payment. In retrospect, that announcement could have been a precursor to the one today.
Good luck to all the lawyers and staffers affected by today’s events.