It’s been a tough day at Goodwin Procter. Multiple tipsters report that the firm is laying off both attorneys and staff today. One source reported on the human toll of losing your job:
[L]awyers were just laid off this morning at Goodwin Procter in Boston. There are both men and women crying in the halls.
It’s not clear what triggered the tears, since Goodwin handled the dismissals professionally, appropriately, and in a manner similar to other top firms. Are Goodwin guys just more sensitive?
Goodwin has laid off 21 attorneys and 34 staff. Here is the critical part from the firm-wide memo Goodwin Procter just sent out to its associates:
In anticipation of a slow economic recovery, we took a number of actions during the year to manage our staffing model, secretarial ratios and discretionary expenses. The end result was that while we were largely successful in realigning resources to meet client needs and market demand, there remains some overcapacity within the firm.
After careful deliberation, we have made the difficult decision to reduce our associate ranks by 21 people and our professional staff ranks by 34 people.
Most of the attorneys who were cut were second-year associates in the firm’s Business Law Department, out of its Boston office.
Read the full memo, after the jump.
Incrementally, the pace of layoffs has been picking up. Perhaps firms are trying to get through all of their cuts before the holiday season?
The latest news comes from Day Pitney. A tipster reports:
Day Pitney in CT laid off 30 staff today and moved staff to lower positions.
A spokesperson from Day Pitney confirmed that the firm laid of 29 staff (not 30). The move was part of a staff reorganization and affected staffers in eight of the firm’s nine offices.
No attorneys were laid off.
Let’s check Day Pitney’s layoff history after the jump.
We don’t have all of the details, but multiple sources report that WilmerHale is laying off 57 staffers today (secretaries and paralegals). We understand that the staff is being informed right now.
We don’t have information about what (if any) severance package is being offered to the departed staff. Our sources report that the layoffs will affect staff in Boston, D.C., and New York offices.
Spokespeople for WilmerHale did not respond to an immediate request comment. But we hope to have more information as people are informed of their job situation.
Good luck, WilmerHale friends. UPDATE More from our tipsters, and a statement from the firm, after the jump.
So what’s happening at Akin Gump these days? There has been some happy news — e.g., a thriving energy M&A practice, lawyers honored by the Washington Business Journal as top D.C. lawyers, and a perfect score on the Corporate Equality Index of the Human Rights Campaign.
And there has been some less happy news. We’ve heard there have been a number of cuts to the staff ranks in Akin’s D.C. office in the past few weeks, as well as a few attorney dismissals here and there (not couched as “layoffs”).
Through a spokesperson, the firm confirmed some trimming of staff ranks, but declined to provide numbers:
While we do not discuss specific personnel matters, we continue to review and streamline our operations to fit the current size of the firm. This has resulted in a small number of staff reductions across the firm. We are not involved in a larger effort aimed at reducing our staff or lawyer workforce.
We hear the severance was around three months, although the firm would not confirm this.
The firm did, however, respond to our inquiry about offer rates.
One casualty of the economic recession could well be the position of “staff attorney.” We’ve reported that Skadden and Covington & Burling have had major cuts to their staff attorney programs. Above the Law is now able to report that similar reductions have happened at Paul Weiss. Sources report that at least a dozen staff attorneys have been let go by Paul Weiss over the past couple of months. UPDATE: We are now hearing reports that the number is significantly higher than a dozen, perhaps as high as 45 (since November 2008). “This can all be confirmed by the lawyer lists that are sent out at the start of each month,” said our source.
A tipster puts it this way:
PW has sneakily let go [a number of] staff attorneys. There have been … cuts in the past few months and it is getting more steady and consistent in the last few weeks. They are letting a few people go every week. It is so ridiculous that they haven’t told anyone what’s really going on and everyone is just waiting around for the call.
Apparently they need to cut all the staff attorneys so they have some work for 80 or so first years that just started who are already doing nothing but doc review and who should expect to be doing nothing but doc review for the foreseeable future. Some of these staff attorneys have been there for seven and eight years and they are not even offering severance. They say it has nothing to do with performance but are letting some of the good people go first.
Paul Weiss declined to comment for this story. But we understand that no associates have been let go.
Are junior associates the new “staff attorney”? More from our tipsters after the jump.
It’s been a while since a firm asked people to voluntarily fire themselves. Maybe with the economy getting better it’s time to dust that strategy off?
Apparently, that is what Crowell & Moring is hoping for. The firm just asked its staff to voluntarily help them get down to a 4 to 1 attorney to staff ratio:
Our goal remains to handle this necessary reduction in a humane and generous way. Accordingly, effective today, we are offering a voluntary opportunity for our support services employees to elect to resign from the firm in exchange for payment of six months of each employee’s annual salary. We are hopeful that this opportunity may be of interest to a number of our secretaries and will bring the firm closer to achieving its goal of an average lawyer to support services ratio of 4 to 1 across our offices. This voluntary package will be available through October 23. At the end of that period, we will reassess our staffing levels and determine whether involuntary reductions are necessary.
Six months severance is a nice package, especially for staff who don’t typically receive as much severance pay as attorneys. If you assume that the firm will not be offering six months to people that are “involuntarily” laid off after October 23rd, the package could be a pretty powerful motivator.
Of course, if there are still no jobs in six months, then does it really matter? If you are a rock star secretary maybe you should just roll the dice and try to hang on.
Tough decisions abound during a recession. Good luck, Crowell & Moring staff.
Read the full internal memo after the jump.
Last week, we told you that Wilson Sonsini froze staff salaries. Today, there is more pain being spread around the legal staffing world. The Recorder reports:
Fifty-eight staffers were cut Thursday, although no attorneys were let go, according to an all-hands memo from Cooley Chief Operating Officer Mark Pitchford.
“This reduction was conducted to eliminate pockets of staffing overcapacity throughout the firm,” wrote Pitchford.
Cooley laid off 62 staffers (and 52 attorneys) back in January. Last month, we reported on stealth layoffs that occurred at the firm throughout the summer.
Given the recent reductions in attorney workforce, it’s not that surprising that Cooley had an overcapacity of staff. But the math probably does not make it any easier for those that lost their jobs.
Good luck, former Cooley staffers.
Read the full firm memo after the jump.
Reports are circulating today of staff cuts at Arnold & Porter. Here is one account from a tipster:
44 staffers laid off yesterday at A&P – 24 from the DC office.
Arnold & Porter confirmed the new to Above the Law a short time ago:
[Arnold & Porter] can confirm that as of yesterday our firm had a reduction in force affecting 44 staff positions in the firm’s domestic offices. These positions are mostly administrative assistant/secretarial positions; no associates or attorneys were involved in the reduction.
We received a lot of tips about Winston & Strawn during the month of August. It seems like the firm had a busy month. We’ve reached out to the firm — multiple times — but haven’t heard anything back. But multiple sources report that Winston laid off around 20 associates over the month of August.
It is not surprising that the firm did not respond to us. Tipsters report that Winston has been extremely stealthy about its associate cuts. They laid people off over a long period of time, but never more than a few associates at any one time. One tipster explains it this way:
The layoffs for attorneys started in the Spring and they took breaks from it to keep under the radar. Same with the secretaries.
As we understand it, the associates let go were mid-level attorneys. They were told that the layoffs were for economic reasons.
Associates at Winston weren’t the only ones feeling the pain of being let go. After the jump, tipsters report that partners have been shown the door as well.
Multiple independent sources report that K&L Gates had a minor spate of staff layoffs late last week. One particular tipster sums up the move nicely:
In the Dallas office last week, five staff members are given the boot, very stealth-like.
Reason given: Not enough work to go around.
As the staff numbers sharply decrease, many attorneys are doing a larger portion of clerical (a/k/a non-billable tasks.
Naturally one would wonder is the time spent filling in for an ever-decreasing staff being billed to clients?
Five legal staffers isn’t necessarily front-page news, but you have to check out how K&L Gates went about this round of cuts.
“Screaming” details, after the jump.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
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