Layoffs

Tenured or not, members of the ivory tower used to feel like they had reached a point in their legal careers where they had a good amount of job security. That was before the recession. Now, it seems they’re ready to poop their pedagogical pantaloons at a moment’s notice for fear of layoffs.

Well, we hope the professors at the law school we’re about to tell you about have a change of pants, because the dean thinks it’s time to flush out some faculty members. There aren’t any buyouts to be had — we’re talking straight-up law prof layoffs.

Which school is decimating its law professor headcount this time?

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Patton Boggs, the once heralded D.C. lobbying firm, has been in trouble for more than a year now. It all started in March 2013 when the firm conducted significant layoffs, and things continued to spiral out of control from there. Additional layoffs followed, flanked by fleeing partners and the closure of the firm’s Newark, New Jersey, office. Profits have plummeted, so much so that Patton Boggs hired the Dewey & LeBoeuf turnaround team of financial advisers Zolfo Cooper and bankruptcy attorney Al Togut. Things certainly aren’t looking very good for the firm, even though managing partner Edward Newberry claims it’s all lollipops and unicorns over there.

Admittedly, first Newberry was afraid, he was petrified. He thought Patton Boggs could never live without cash by its side. But then he spent so many nights thinking how his firm went wrong, and he grew strong. He learned how to get along. His firm will survive — “healthy and profitable” — the same way all floundering firms do: additional layoffs are making their way down the pipeline, and it’s partners’ heads that will roll.

How many partners will have to find new homes? Let’s find out…

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Rachel Canning

* Dewey know who Zachary Warren is? Per this failed firm’s insiders, he seems to be a “man of mystery” who apparently worked in the “bowels of the bureaucracy” that ultimately led to D&L’s demise. [Am Law Daily]

* “You can cross-examine the witness. You can’t cross examine an email.” Defense of the Dewey defendants may be tough when it’s time for trial — and you can bet your ass there’ll be a trial. [New York Law Journal]

* Fear not, friends, because Patton Boggs has found a way to weather the storm. It’s the same way most barely buoyant firms stay afloat: more layoffs. Expect more on this news later today. [National Law Journal]

* Paul Ceglia, the man who claims he owns half of Facebook’s fortunes, can’t toss his criminal charges. Sometimes wheeling and dealing with allegedly faux contracts will land you in the clink. [Bloomberg]

* Because no father wants to see his daughter become “tabloid fodder”: Rachel Canning, the New Jersey schoolgirl who sued her parents, is being “savaged” by the public. Aww, poor little Millennial. [Daily Record]


James Holmes

* For the first time ever, someone managed to record secret video footage at SCOTUS during oral arguments — and, of course, it’s secret video footage of the McCutcheon protestor’s outburst. You can check it out after the jump. [Reuters]

* After a brief hospitalization yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder was discharged from the hospital with a clean bill of health. It looks like he won’t have to go to one of those Obamacare death panels after all! [Washington Post]

* “The trajectory of an associate in a law firm has changed irreversibly.” Ain’t that the truth. But seriously, what happened to all of the Biglaw lawyers who were Lathamed way back in 2009? Here are some of their stories. [Am Law Daily]

* More law schools are trying to convince students to attend by offering scholarships. Tulsa will toss you cash if you’re from the sticks, and TJSL will guarantee you money if you’re smart. [National Law Journal]

* A trial date has been set for accused Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes. Get ready to see this crazy face on HLN 24 hours a day while Nancy Grace offers her ever insightful commentary. [CNN]

(Keep reading to see the now legendary Supreme Court oral argument protest footage.)

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Smokey Bear, please report to Patton Boggs.

Is Patton Boggs on fire — and not in a good way?

The prominent lobbying and law firm recently announced the closing of its office in Newark, New Jersey. Discussing the move with Politico, managing partner Edward Newberry said, “We’ve lit intentionally a forest fire, we’ve controlled that forest fire. While we’ve lost a few people over the last year, who are good friends and good partners, our firm is much stronger today than it’s been in a long time.”

The firm has lost “a few people” over the last year? How about roughly 100 attorneys, representing 20 percent of lawyer headcount, plus an unknown number of staff? With additional prominent partners said to be eying the emergency exits?

Somebody call 911, law firm fire burnin’ on the dance floor….

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Here at Above the Law, whenever we get a tip about a law firm, we consult with our existing sources at the firm and reach out to the firm’s press operation to nail down as many details as possible. But sometimes there’s a firm so wrapped up in its own secrecy that it’s like pulling teeth to score any further information.

In the wake of the recent double-digit lawyer layoffs at Kasowitz Benson, we heard about another firm letting litigators go in New York. We reached out to this firm last week for comment and have not yet heard back. Maybe they think responding is beneath them? They are one of the most-arrogant law firms in the world — so much so that they’re publicly disrespecting Judge Richard Posner. Perhaps they think that blowing us off will make the story go away? They’d be wrong.

So we’re taking the reports we’ve heard to you, the audience, hoping it might inspire someone out there to divulge additional intel that we can use to update the story.

As of now, we hear the megafirm sent a partner walking the halls of the New York office last week, telling litigators to consider the enriching employment opportunities of “somewhere else.”

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More than a week after we broke the news, the New York Law Journal got around to covering the Kasowitz Benson layoffs. (Thanks for crediting us, NYLJ.)

Although the report is untimely, it contains a few new bits of information about the Kasowitz cuts. Here are the highlights, along with additional info from Above the Law sources….

(Please note the UPDATE at the end of this post.)

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Jennifer Jones

* A source says the casualties at Kasowitz were a matter of “managing the pipeline” after work involving the credit crisis dried up. Don’t worry, he says the firm’s still really busy. Aww, someone will believe you. [New York Law Journal]

* Sorry, folks, but if you want to work in Biglaw, taking classes during law school like “Law and Unicorns” isn’t going to cut it. Try to stick to the boring stuff, and you probably won’t get dinged as often. [Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* Oregon’s AG is refusing to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage because it “cannot withstand a federal constitutional challenge under any standard of review.” That’s just fabulous, darling. [Bloomberg]

* Career alternatives for attorneys: Olympic gold medalist. Jennifer Jones, in-house counsel at National Bank Financial, helped Canada’s curling team take the win this week in Sochi. You go, girl! [The Star]

* Say hi to this century’s Stella Liebeck. A woman is suing Dunkin’ Donuts after suffering second and third degree burns to her crotchal region after spilling her hot apple cider. [New Jersey Law Journal (reg. req.)]

When it comes to Biglaw word-processing jobs, Williams Lea is the grim reaper. As we’ve chronicled in these pages, numerous leading law firms have outsourced their word processing and proofreading functions to this prominent provider.

This has led to layoffs — lots and lots of layoffs. Some affected employees have been sad, and some have been angry. One complained of the “callous disregard for the welfare of long-time Foley [& Lardner] employees” that a Williams Lea takeover displayed.

But could these changes be beneficial — not just for law firm bottom lines, but for the affected individuals? The latest law firm to outsource its WP and proofreading functions, one of the most prestigious and profitable firms in all the land, makes the case….

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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.)

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