Biglaw, Layoffs, Secretaries / Administrative Assistants, Staff Layoffs

Respected Biglaw Firm Offers Buyouts To Almost 40 Employees

We’re midway through Biglaw’s second quarter, and this will be the third week in a row we’re covering law firm layoffs or buyouts of some variety. This just goes to show that no matter how well a firm does, it’s always looking to do better, and the easiest way to do so is by managing human expenses.

Sometimes the firms attempting to trim their ranks are members of the “Super Rich,” with high revenues per lawyer (at least $1 million) and even higher profits per partner (at least $2 million). Other times, these firms are rich but not super-rich — firms that generally saw “modest, hard-won gains” last year, according to the American Lawyer.

The firm we’re writing about today falls into the latter group, with relatively small financial gains in 2013. Despite this, it’s still offering “very generous” packages to inspire employees to walk away….

The firm in question is Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, whose managing partner, Michael D. Torpey, sent out a firm-wide email yesterday afternoon to announce a voluntary early retirement program for U.S. secretarial staff. Thirty-seven secretaries are eligible for this buyout, which was offered to those who have “10 or more years of service to the firm and will be at least 59 ½ years of age in 2014.”

Here’s an explanation of the buyout program, from Torpey’s email:

I wanted to make all of you aware of the program and our reasons for offering it. As you know, a year ago we reviewed our support staff structure and took steps that are generating both significant service improvements and cost savings. We did not look at our secretarial staffing at that time. We already have secretarial staffing ratios that are in line with our peer firms. With the use of our very successful secretarial service centers, the ARC at the GOC, and other new ways of working, we have now identified opportunities for further improvement, which we can achieve through this entirely voluntary program.

We wish those affected at Orrick the best of luck, whether or not they choose to remain at the firm. You can read the full email, which emphasizes the voluntary nature of the program, on the next page.

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.

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