Nope, we’re not done covering yesterday’s bloodbath over at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. If the powers-that-be at CWT think they can lay off almost 100 lawyers and have everyone forget about in a day, they’re sorely mistaken. We intend to stick with this story for quite some time (in part because you can’t get enough of it, judging from our traffic logs, the robust commenting, and the continuing inflow of tips).
As many commenters have noted, memories are long when it comes to lawyer layoffs. Prospective recruits will hold this against Cadwalader five years from now — assuming CWT is still around then — just as people still remember which firms laid off lawyers in the last downturn, in the early 2000s.
We have some additional info to pass along, based on reports from summer and incoming associates. Yesterday afternoon, Cadwalader held a meeting for its summers, led by chairman Chris White and hiring committee chair Paul Mourning (yup, “Mourning”). Former chairman Bob Link attended, but had a non-speaking role.
White told the summer class essentially what he told the WSJ Law Blog (down to quoting the same numbers, and stressing that the layoffs were mostly in real estate finance and asset securitization). Mourning focused on issues particular to the summer class:
He didn’t say what people wanted to hear (that everyone could still expect an offer). Instead, he said something like “the firm will continue to use the same evaluation criteria that it has used in the past” and that some people will get offers without knowing what exact practice group they will be in. The latter is likely a reference to people who chose corporate or capital markets as their top choice but will likely have to do litigation until the market picks up.
This is in contrast to Chris White explicitly saying in his opening day speech to the summers (after addressing the previous 35-lawyer layoff) that the firm expected to extend offers to all summer associates.
Paul also mentioned that the firm doesn’t expect to rescind any offers to the incoming first-year class. Some summers found it unnerving that he even mentioned that.
Speaking of incoming first-years at CWT, one of them forwarded us the email the firm sent to the group — check it out, after the jump — along with this commentary:
Just wanted to send along the email I got yesterday. First thing I read when I got home from the NYS Bar Exam! I have to believe that they powers that be at CWT were completely clueless that yesterday was the NY Bar. Why not wait another week? What a drop-kick to the gut.
This individual asked for advice:
Should I start spamming the resume now, or wait until September when I start at CWT? (There’s the old adage that it’s easiest to find a job when you’ve already got one).
Should I contact Career Services, or is that window closed to me, now that I’m an alum?
Uncharted territory, for sure. I’d love to here from the peanut gallery.
So, commenters, whaddya think?
Our advice: start your job search as soon as reasonably practicable — maybe after your bar trip, if you’re taking one — and continue it after you arrive at Cadwalader. Feel free to call upon Career Services; they’re usually eager to help alums (although we understand that some law schools, at the height of fall recruiting, limit the services they provide to alumni).
Don’t let yourself be buffeted by the winds of fate; take charge of your career and your life. Don’t be a Pollyanna, thinking that things will probably get better. They probably won’t — at least not anytime soon.
Of the people who stuck around at CWT after the January layoffs, thinking they would just “ride it out,” 96 of them are now headed for the unemployment line. They could perhaps be excused for buying the firm’s reassurances back then, before the past few months of terrible economic news, especially with respect to the real estate and credit markets.
But you have no such excuse; the writing is on the proverbial wall. Remember the saying that George W. Bush famously mangled: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Do yourself a favor — as well as a favor to the firm, and to those who remain there — and get the hell out, if you can. Voluntary departures will reduce the number of people to be laid off in round three.
Two memos — the email message that CWT sent to its incoming associates, and the email message the firm sent to the career services offices of certain law schools — are posted after the jump.