Arnold & Porter, Biglaw, Layoffs, Secretaries / Administrative Assistants, Staff Layoffs

Voluntary Buyouts Offered By Yet Another Top-Tier Law Firm

The legal profession is not what it once was. It seems like every week, we’re writing about the same topics, over and over again: tumbling profits, partner departures, and layoffs. Biglaw’s focus on the bottom line is even sharper than in years past, and that means that when firms are hurting for cash, the first thing they’ll cut is “excess” personnel.

For a firm that sank like a stone in the most recent Fortune “Best Companies to Work For” rankings, sliding from #62 to #81 in just a year’s time, reducing ranks is sure to earn it another demotion.

Not so fast, though, because to our knowledge, this leading law firm isn’t desperately seeking dollars, and it’s not conducting layoffs just yet, either — instead, generous buyout packages are being offered…

(Please note the UPDATES to this post below.)

Word on the street is that Arnold & Porter, a firm that saw a double-digit increase in gross revenue in the most recent Am Law 100 rankings (up 14.3% to $731 million), is offering volunteer buyout packages to its secretarial staff, firm-wide. One tipster says those packages are being pushed for A&P’s older employees, specifically, secretaries over the age of 64 (and apparently there’s a lot of them, likely more than 30).

According to one source, the buyouts involve a lump-sum payment (said to be over $25,000), plus an unspecified amount for every year of service. Staff receiving the offer reportedly have 45 days to make a decision. We reached out to the firm for confirmation numerous times, but never received a response.

By all accounts, that lump-sum payment sure sounds sweet, and it’s pretty sizable compared to others we’ve covered in the past. Would you accept it? We wish those affected at Arnold & Porter the best of luck, whether they choose to remain at the firm and tempt fate or choose to take the money and run.

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 (3:00 P.M.): A source reached out to us to give us all the details on A&P’s buyout package:

The offer was made to EVERYONE in the firm. It included 2 weeks of severance for every year of service up to a maximum of 26 weeks. In addition, there is a $1,000/year bonus for every year of service with the firm. The firm is also paying 100% of COBRA for 18 months.

UPDATE (2/25/2014): Managing partner Richard M. Alexander confirmed that A&P offered voluntary resignation packages to its entire secretarial staff. As he told Law360 (sub. req.):

All law firms are constantly analyzing and evaluating changes in the way we provide support services to both our internal and external clients. Moving to a new building, we need to run an efficient law firm in the current age. This team-based approach will allow us to provide effective service to our clients.

Arnold & Porter offers buyouts to all secretaries [ABA Journal]
Arnold & Porter Joins Biglaw Staff-Cutting Push [Law360 (sub. req.)]

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of voluntary Biglaw buyouts

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