Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge

As we noted earlier today, the legal sector has added 2,300 jobs since the start of 2014. For an industry that currently employs more than 1.1 million people, 2,300 new jobs doesn’t sound like a lot — but hey, it’s better than shedding jobs.

Note that we’re talking about net job growth. Some legal employers are hiring, while others are firing.

Which major law firm just laid off a total of 52 lawyers and staffers last week?

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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….

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When the merger of Edwards Angell and Wildman Harrold was announced back in August 2011, some observers, such as our beloved commenters here at Above the Law, viewed the move as an act of desperation. Because both firms had a tough time during the recession, the notion of their combining with each other reminded some people of… well, this.

Now, as we approach the two-year anniversary of the merger’s announcement, how are things going over at Edwards Wildman? Are Angells flapping their wings with joy and Wildmen hoisting glasses of grog?

Not exactly, say some….

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In Machiavelli’s masterpiece, The Prince, chapter 19 — “That One Should Avoid Being Despised And Hated” — contains Machaivelli’s only suggested restrictions on the Prince’s absolute power. Machiavelli essentially argues that the Prince must not take the people’s sheep (“sheep” being a metaphor for the ability of peasants to have enough food) or their women (“women” being a metaphor for women). He writes: “It makes him hated above all things, as I have said, to be rapacious, and to be a violator of the property and women of his subjects, from both of which he must abstain. And when neither their property nor honour is touched, the majority of men live content, and he has only to contend with the ambition of a few, whom he can curb with ease in many ways.”

These are good restrictions for all who find themselves in positions of inscrutable power. Most men will suffer any other form of servitude so long as they have enough to eat and are allowed exclusive access to their own wives. The 1% will be just fine, so long as they don’t institute some kind of system of polygamy that allows the wealthy to marry-up all of the available women.

Machaivelli’s advice applies just as easily to a totalitarian ruler of a country as it does to a managing partner of a law firm. Managing partners, ignore Machiavelli at your peril. You could end up with a full-scale revolt on your hands — or, at the very least, an embarrassing lawsuit from a former, allegedly cuckolded partner….

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Edwards Angell & Wildman Harrold: A match made in heaven?

What results from the coupling of an angel and a wild man? One might think: angel + wild man = air traffic nightmare.

In the law firm context, however, the result is quite different. Edwards Angell is merging with Wildman Harrold, to form Edwards Wildman Palmer. The merger will take effect on October 1 and “will bring together 650 lawyers across two legacy firms renowned for their deep experience, shared dedication to client service, and highly collaborative cultures,” according to the new firm’s website.

What else do we know about Edwards Wildman Palmer? And what might be motivating this merger?

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I'm pretty sure this was the only child to die under suspicious circumstances in the past three years.

* Caylee’s Law would make it a felony for anybody to grieve for their child in any way that doesn’t involve law enforcement within the hour. I trust the libertarian crowd is going to help me point out how this is dumb. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Big time antitrust lawyer Christine A. Varney is leaving the Justice Department and heading to Cravath (perhaps as a replacement of sorts for Katherine Forrest). So it looks like there was some money left over after spring bonuses for Cravath to make a new hire. Phew. [Dealbook]

* Eliot Spitzer (f.k.a. the steamroller) just got flattened by Erin Burnett. [Dealbreaker]

* Even judges in Flori-duh are allegedly bats**t crazy. [Obscure Store]

* In more reasonable news coming out of Florida, this reminds me of the “mock trial” club in high school. [Miami New Times]

* Courtesy of NALP, here’s more evidence that the class of 2010 is totally screwed. You know, I wish I could have the entire class over to my house for a big pity party. We could all hang out and play Rock Band, and at the end everybody could have a cup of my delicious homemade Kool-Aid. [NALP]

* Chicago law firm merger mania? I just hope nothing messes with the name “Wildman Harrold.” [ABA Journal]