Over the course of the past two months, we’ve been able to allow only one week to pass without the mention of a layoff or buyout of some sort, whether it be from a law firm or a law school.
These layoffs haven’t affected only handfuls of people — with about 20 people here, and more than 50 people there, hordes of law firm and law school personnel have been thrust into the unemployment line in recent weeks. Today, we’ve got word on yet another double-digit law firm layoff, this time coming amid the “surreptitious firing” of associates and the defection of several partners.
Which firm is the source of this unfortunate action?
The law firm in question is Fitzpatrick Cella Harper & Scinto, a firm which you may recall had the largest drop in gross revenue (8.8. percent) in the latest Am Law 200 rankings. We’ve heard that the firm laid off about 20 members of its support staff last week, canning “a bunch of associates” at the same time. For the record, it seems these associate firings have been going on for some time now, since at least mid-March.
The partners leaving Fitzpatrick Cella are Lisa Barons Pensabene, Marc Pensabene, and Filko Prugo (the Pensabenes are married). All three are headed to O’Melveny & Myers, per Bloomberg. Lisa Pensabene will serve as OMM’s firmwide head of life sciences litigation. Rumor has it that associates will follow them.
We reached out to Fitzpatrick Cella Harper & Scinto for confirmation, and received this statement:
The recent reorganization of our staff personnel and appropriate associate attrition in connection with our review process, positions Fitzpatrick to meet changing client needs in the efficient way required by the ever evolving nature of providing top flight legal services, now and into the future. We firmly believe that these changes will strengthen our ability to give our world class clients the highest quality service, which they deserve and are accustomed to receiving from us.
The firm is trying to put a positive spin on this, but one of our tipsters says the firm has ulterior motives:
I heard through various sources that the firm’s revenue was declining and that they had been treating staff and attorneys badly in the hopes of right sizing through attrition. Apparently they may have been forced to take a more proactive approach in shedding personnel at this point.
Yikes. Proactive indeed.
We sincerely wish those affected at Fitzpatrick Cella the best of luck while they seek new opportunities.
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.