Working at a firm that gets high profile work doesn’t make you immune to the ravages of the tanking economy. Above the Law can now confirm that Weil Gotshal has laid off 79 staffers. We received the following statement from a Weil spokesperson:
Effective today, the Firm has eliminated 79 administrative positions across its US offices. The decision to undertake this action has been an extremely difficult one; the fact that many peer law firms were forced to make similar moves is of little consolation. In taking these steps, we have made every possible effort to be fair-minded and those who are affected have received severance packages that provide transitional income and benefits, with access to a range of services that include healthcare and career guidance. We believe the package we have designed to assist those whose positions have been eliminated more than meets industry norms.
For those keeping score at home, this means that Weil believes it is perfectly able to handle the mega-bankruptcy work it is involved in without the benefit of extra staffers — or a fresh class of incoming associates.
If staff isn’t safe at Weil, are they safe anywhere?
The Weil statement goes on to cite cost concerns from its clients as the reason for the layoffs:
The buyers of legal services – many of whom are experiencing declining markets or even financial distress – are demanding that their service providers produce the most cost-efficient product possible. We have to be cognizant of this industry-wide expectation and plan accordingly.
Have Weil staffers been crushed under the wheel of economic efficiency? Congratulations to the survivors. Good luck to those that have been let go. Luckily, tomorrow is Saturday. Nobody gets laid off on Saturday.
Read the full statement after the jump.
Only staff attorneys that were “integral” to ongoing matters have been kept on. And there is no word on whether those people will have any job security after their matters wrap up.
It appears that Covington & Burling is also undergoing a major reduction of its staff attorney program.
Tipsters (including some recently laid off staff attorneys) report that firm management has decided to effectively discontinue its staff attorney program. The firm has been letting go of staff attorneys at the rate of a couple per week over the last few weeks. As we understand it, as staff attorneys finish up their active matters, they are being let go.
Our sources tell us that the decision was made by firm management some weeks back. At the time the decision was made, the staff attorney manager was out of the office on vacation. When she came back, she allegedly told Covington’s staff attorneys that they should start circulating their resumes.
In some cases, laid off staff attorneys are being given a one week severance option. One week, if they sign a form promising not to sue the firm over the circumstances of their termination. Some Covington personnel that spoke to Above the Law believed that clause is proof that Covington decided to move out staff attorneys as a response to the lawsuit filed by former-Covington Staff Attorney Yolanda Young.
After the jump, we have statements from Covington & Burling, and Yolanda Young.
But since then, K&L Gates has made a number of smaller staff cuts in a number of its offices, including Pittsburgh and Chicago.
The firm refused to comment on its latest reductions. But our sources report that around 20 staffers have been let go from the firm today and over the last couple of weeks. The cuts are coming in the departments you’d expect when a firm is trying to reduce costs. Mailroom staff, the floating secretarial pool, these are the people getting hit right now.
Tipsters also report that in Chicago at least, the recent cuts are Bell Boyd & Lloyd legacy staffers.
Still, it’s got to be particularly tough to survive the K&L Gates March cuts, only to be caught on the backswing now. Nobody is truly “safe” in this economy, but you’d like job security to be a little more than a month-to-month proposition.
Kilpatrick Stockton fires associates after the jump.
Like many of you, we’ve heard the rumors about significant staffing cuts at Skadden all week. We now understand that all of the affected individuals have been informed, and we can now appreciate the scope of Skadden’s actions. Here is the bad news for Skadden staff:
* We understand that over 50 legal support staffers have been let go from the firm.
* In addition to those support staffers, the staff attorney program at Skadden has been greatly reduced. Only staff attorneys that were “integral” to ongoing matters have been kept on. And there is no word on whether those people will have any job security after their matters wrap up.
* The cuts were spread across all of Skadden’s U.S. offices, but at this point international offices remain unscathed.
* No associates were let go.
At some level, staffing cuts at Skadden are not surprising. Last week, we reported that two major Skadden DC partners were leaving the firm. We now understand that they took ten associates with them. We understand that associates participation in the Sidebar program has been very strong. It is a bit too early to tell what the final numbers will be for participation in that program, but our sources report that one of the reasons for the strong early numbers is that Skadden partners are using their contacts to find objectively interesting public service opportunities.
Still, fewer attorneys was bound to lead to fewer staff.
Of course, that doesn’t mean laid off staff are happy with the situation.
The economy is continuing to shed legal jobs. Today’s news comes from Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. A GDC spokesperson just furnished Above the Law with this statement:
Due to the challenging market environment that has affected our clients and the demand for legal services, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher has reduced its staff positions by 36 across the Firm’s nine U.S. offices. While this is a modest reduction in staff relative to many peer firms, it was nonetheless made reluctantly and with great regret. Now, more than ever, however, we must take appropriate steps to serve our clients in the most cost-efficient manner.
As we’ve said many times, legal support staffs continue to feel the brunt of the retraction in the legal market.
This is the latest cost cutting move from Gibson Dunn, which recently scaled back its summer program to ten weeks. Hopefully, it will be the last?
Yes, we live in a world where any firm wide meeting has to be greeted with a sense of “oh, crap.” But that doesn’t mean we can’t still hold out hope that one of these meetings will end up being completely benign.
We just received word that Troutman Sanders has scheduled an all staff meeting for 2:00 p.m. EDT today. Conference rooms have been booked at all of the firm’s offices. The purpose of the meeting was announced via firm-wide email:
Bob Webb is holding a meeting today for all of the US Firm’s staff employees to discuss a very important matter. Your attendance at this meeting is requested and we appreciate if you would adjust your schedules in order to attend. Thank you.
We collect some of our other Troutman tips, and an update about an all associates meeting, after the jump.
It’s been a rough week in Chicago. Sidley laid off 229 people, something is happening at Katten today, and we have received confirmation that Jenner & Block has had to lay off 34 staffers.
Above the Law obtained this official statement from Jenner’s managing partner, Susan Levy:
Given the efficiency and productivity gains from these various sources, Jenner & Block is eliminating 34 support staff positions in our Chicago and Washington, D.C. offices. No attorneys are affected by these changes. We are offering generous severance packages to the individuals affected as well as outplacement services.
That is not a huge number compared to what has been going around. But it’s still pretty tough to be replaced by productivity gains during these difficult economic times.
Good luck to those let go from Jenner today. Read the full statement after the jump.
Records are being set this morning at Latham & Watkins. At 8:00 a.m. Eastern time, managing partner Bob Dell sent out an email announcing that the firm is laying off 190 associates and 250 staff. These numbers are on top of any “stealth layoffs” that may have previously occurred at the firm in the past year.
Four hundred forty employees — 190 associates, 250 staff — is, as far as we know, more than any one law firm has ever laid off (not counting dissolutions). Latham is also the first Vault top ten firm to conduct major layoffs.
But Latham is also setting another record, of a more positive nature. Consistent with what we reported yesterday, the firm is offering “a comprehensive separation package, including payment of six months salary (up to total severance of $100,000) plus six months of continued medical coverage (through August 31, 2009).” This is the most generous severance package that any major law firm has given departing employees (see this table).
That will definitely soften the blow. But one LW source has a question:
No mention on any partner shifts — did they really grossly overshoot the number of associates and staff they needed for the economy we ended up with, but nail the number of partners needed just right?
According to Dell’s email, the cuts constitute approximately 12 percent of associates and 10 percent of paralegals and support staff. One LW tipster, however, tells us that in terms of U.S. associates being laid off, the number may be closer to 20 percent.
The full email from Robert Dell, plus more, after the jump.
Remember when being a staff attorney was a viable option in the Biglaw universe? As we have previously reported, many big firms are laying off their staff attorneys. Today, Dechert adds its name to that growing trend.
Within the past few hours, we received a number of tips about staff attorney layoffs at Dechert.
Our sources tell us that Dechert will lay off 10 staff attorneys today. The number accounts for about 1/4th of the firm’s total staff attorney force.
Dechert laid off 19 attorneys two weeks ago, and 72 staffers back in December. So this news should not be particularly surprising.
But it is another indication that the economic crisis is taking a toll on all types of Biglaw employment.
Good luck to the 10 staff attorneys leaving Dechert.
Back in November, Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney cut 15 to 25 staffers (though the firm declined to call them “layoffs”). Last week, it appears that the firm made additional cuts to its staff — and this time the firm is being clear about what is going on. Buchanan’s executive director Nolan Kurtz told Above the Law:
The firm eliminated about 25 to 30 administrative operations positions last week. Given the overall economic climate, we believe that it’s more important than ever to ensure that we have the right staffing in place firmwide.
The firm also announced the news directly to associates, on Friday. According to a tipster:
[Buchanan Ingersoll] announced Friday another round of cuts after several Harrisburg corp. and Philadelphia IP lawyers resigned….
Kurtz Buchanan told the [attorneys] that laying off staff was not because of the economy but good planning.
Will attorneys soon follow staffers into unemployment? Maybe. More from Mr. Kurtz after the jump.
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
LexisNexis and OverDrive®, the digital library solutions provider chosen by 22,000+ libraries, schools and colleges worldwide, have joined forces to provide a library management solution that suits evolving legal research requirements mobility, simplified library management, and space and budget reductions.
Reduce your library costs and extend the budget.
With LexisNexis® Digital Library, overhead and administrative costs for maintaining a print library are reduced dramatically. Adopt an easy-to-use platform that requires minimal staff resources so your organization can make the most out of your library budget. Plus, multi-year purchase options let your library lock in savings.
Empower your librarians.
Your firm’s librarians will have more time to conduct value-added research. They’ll have greater insight into what resources the staff actually uses so they can make adjustments to the collection quickly using a single website. Librarians can gain greater control, which can lead to better library utilization and increased strategic value to the firm.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
The traditional job application and interview process can be impersonal, and applicants often struggle to present themselves as more than just the sum of their GPAs, alma maters, and previous work history. ATL has partnered with ViewYou to help job seekers overcome this challenge. ViewYou NOW Profiles offer a unique way for job seekers to make a personal, memorable connection with prospective employers: introduction videos. These videos allow job candidates to display their personalities, interpersonal skills, and professional interests, creating an eDossier to brand themselves to potential employers all over the world. Check it out today!