Firings

Over the course of the past two months, we’ve been able to allow only one week to pass without the mention of a layoff or buyout of some sort, whether it be from a law firm or a law school.

These layoffs haven’t affected only handfuls of people — with about 20 people here, and more than 50 people there, hordes of law firm and law school personnel have been thrust into the unemployment line in recent weeks. Today, we’ve got word on yet another double-digit law firm layoff, this time coming amid the “surreptitious firing” of associates and the defection of several partners.

Which firm is the source of this unfortunate action?

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This is as close to titillating as I’ll ever get in one of these columns:  When a senior lawyer (or executive) leaves a company in December, what does that mean?

Basically, Ecclesiastes is all about changing jobs:  “To every thing there is a season.”

When a partner at a law firm moves laterally in January, that’s like leaves changing in autumn.  The partner waited to receive his (or her) year-end bonus from firm A and, having pocketed the bonus, then moved on to firm B.  That makes the lateral acquisition cheaper for the new firm.

The in-house world is a step slower:  When an in-house lawyer (or executive) moves to a new company in March or April, that’s like snow falling in winter.  The in-house person waited to receive his (or her) annual bonus in March (more or less) and, having pocketed the bonus, then moved on.  That reduces the hiring cost for the new company.

But when an in-house lawyer (or executive) leaves a company in December, that’s a blizzard in May!  The game is afoot!  (Blogging is so good for me.  I just learned that Shakespeare said that first, although I was thinking of Sherlock Holmes (who said it later) when I typed the phrase.)  Quickly, Mr. Watson!  What can we deduce from an out-of-season executive departure?

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A friendly reminder: this week is Secretaries’ Administrative Professionals’ Week. The day itself falls on Wednesday, so attorneys, buy your gifts now.

Alas, these are tough times for administrative assistants at law firms. We’re seeing an epidemic of staff layoffs, with secretaries among the hardest hit. In short, secretaries are getting spanked.

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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