The latest layoffs involve both lawyers and staff, based out of two large legal markets, New York and Washington, D.C….
Secretaries / Administrative Assistants
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This past Sunday’s New York Times featured not just the Cincinnati IRS exposé, but also a depressing discussion about the job market. Here’s the upshot: “Unemployment is staying high despite the end of the recession because we are now in a historic transition. Because of automation, globalization, efficiency and other factors, we no longer need the share of people working that we have had in the past. With these trends moving in only one direction, it is clear that the job crisis is permanent and will not go away with better economic times.”
That’s the analysis of James B. Huntington, author of Work’s New Age: The End of Full Employment and What It Means to You (affiliate link). In the words of researcher Thomas W. Clark, another participant in the Times forum, “given the rise of the machines, human labor is worth less and less in the marketplace.”
You can see this trend playing out in the way that staff layoffs are spreading rapidly throughout large law firms. Today we have more layoff news to share….
- Akin Gump, Biglaw, Layoffs, Partner Issues, Partner Profits, Secretaries / Administrative Assistants, Staff Layoffs
On yesterday’s post about layoffs at a major international law firm, one of my favorite commenters, “Successful Troll,” took note of our stock photo for such stories: “I feel sorry for the pretty blond woman in the picture. It seems she keeps going from firm to firm being laid off — probably 20 times already this year.”
It was funny, but also depressing. How much longer can layoffs, especially staff layoffs and “stealth” layoffs of lawyers, go on? Who is left to be laid off? Where are laid-off employees of law firms supposed to look for new jobs, in an environment in which it seems that all firms, including some very elite ones, are cutting headcount?
For now, these questions remain unanswered. Today we have more layoff news for you….
- Allen & Overy, Biglaw, Layoffs, Magic Circle, Outsourcing, Partner Issues, Secretaries / Administrative Assistants, Staff Layoffs
While summer associates are present, certain subjects are off-limits. Don’t talk about that group of partners with a huge book of business that’s going to defect any day now. Don’t talk about that salacious lawsuit against the firm that’s still pending.
And don’t talk about layoffs — of staffers or lawyers or both. Reductions are such a buzzkill….
Mammas, don’t let your babies grow up to be legal secretaries. We’re hearing scattered and somewhat hard-to-confirm reports of lawyer layoffs at various firms — please email us or text us (646-820-8477) if you have news to share — but efforts to reduce the ranks of secretaries are open and notorious.
If you spin through our staff layoff coverage, you’ll see that numerous law firms have shrunk the size of their secretarial staffs. Some firms have done this the hard way, through layoffs, while others have taken the kinder and gentler route, through buyouts.
Today we can report that two leading law firms have jumped on the “voluntary separation” bandwagon. If you’re a recently displaced legal assistant looking for a new position, don’t bother applying to either of these places — one of which is shedding lawyers, too….
* Happy Administrative Professionals’ Day! While we focus a lot on lawyers, judges, and law students, I’d like to take this opportunity to appreciate our legal staff audience — the secretaries, paralegals, clerks, recruiters, office managers, word processors, receptionists, and everyone else affiliated with the legal practice other than the J.D. crowd. Not only do you do great work, but you help keep this site running with your anonymous tips. Keep ‘em coming! [Above the Law]
* Why yes, I do want a Tumblr of GIFs about public defenders. [What the Public Defender]
* A mega-retailer with a reputation for ruthlessly destroying its competitors makes life difficult for anyone who has to subpoena them? No! [Associate's Mind]
* UVA College Republicans see a massive infringement of student rights in the administration’s decision that fraternities conclude pledging early as an anti-hazing measure. Republicans: Protecting your God-given right to create a naked pyramid since Abu Ghraib. [Cavalier Daily]
* “The Blogger as Public Intellectual.” See, we’re a lot more than dick jokes about law firms, people. [PrawfsBlawg]
* Of all the reasons to lock your cell phone, “To Avoid Arrest” is one of them. [Legal Juice]
* Biglaw explained: Clinical depression is contagious. [Law and More]
* SJL Attorney Search has acquired The Shannon Group, a Washington, D.C.-based career transition, coaching and talent development firm. [Wall Street Journal (press release)]
* Arrested Development is coming back soon! Check out this infographic that tells you which Arrested Development character you are. To the surprise of no one, I’m Lucille. Unfortunately, Barry Zuckercorn, Maggie Lizer, and Bob Loblaw aren’t options. [OK Gorgeous]
- Biglaw, Holidays and Seasons, Paralegals, Secretaries / Administrative Assistants, Shopping, Shopping For Others
Ed. note: This is the fourth installment in a new series of monthly posts, brought to you by Corporette’s Kat Griffin, which will deal with topical business and lifestyle issues that present themselves in the world of Biglaw. Send your ideas for columns to us here.
For those of you who don’t know, it’s that time of the year: time to tell the world
how much you love your assistant that you’re a great manager by showering your assistant with gifts. Technically the “holiday” runs the entire last full week in April, but Administrative Professionals’ Day itself is Wednesday, April 24.
What’s the deal?
A friendly reminder: this week is
Secretaries’ Administrative Professionals’ Week. The day itself falls on Wednesday, so attorneys, buy your gifts now.
Sadly, these difficulties are not completely recent. Law firms have been reducing the ranks of secretaries for several years now.
Firing for economic reasons, while unfortunate, is legal. But one former Biglaw secretary, fired from her firm back in 2008, alleges that she was unlawfully terminated….
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* Earlier this week, after some political wrangling, Senator Chuck Grassley proposed the Court Efficiency Act in the hope of paring down the D.C. Circuit. But really, come on, what are the odds of that happening… again? [National Law Journal]
* Biglaw partners, rejoice, for it seems that your legal secretaries will be unable to sue you for defamation over emails written to your wives. Spousal privilege, baby! (N.B. This doesn’t apply to your girlfriends.) [New York Law Journal]
* Which law schools placed the highest percentage of grads in federal clerkships? This info comes from the rankings guru himself. We may have more on this later. [Morse Code / U.S. News & World Report]
* The Rutgers basketball scandal claimed another scalp yesterday after the school’s former general counsel resigned. Rutgers Law dean John Farmer will be stepping in for a brief assist. [Star-Ledger]
* So, do you remember that environmental report Steven Donziger allegedly had made up in the Chevron case? Yeah, the consulting firm just disavowed all of the evidence in the report. Oops! [Businessweek]
* Say so long to your retirement money, sweetie: Junie Hoang, the actress who sued IMDb for revealing the fact that she was over the hill, received a less than favorable jury verdict. [Houston Chronicle]
In round one of our Above the Law March Madness bracket, aimed at finding the law firm with the brightest future, Davis Polk is up against (and currently beating) Latham & Watkins. I actually found that to be a pretty rough opening match-up; both Davis and Latham strike me as firms that should be in the Sweet 16, and maybe even the Elite Eight.
Thanks to its top talent, superb brand, and global footprint, Latham has a bright future as a firm. Of course, working there can be like riding a roller-coaster: it expands like crazy and mints money during good times, then conducts massive layoffs during bad times. But if you can stomach the ups and downs, LW can be a great place to work.
Alas, not everyone at the firm will get to keep working there….