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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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….

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The new Vault Rankings are out. It’s a fun day for large law firms — a day when their prestige is matched against that of their peers.

The day is even more significant this year, since it appears that so-called “top” Biglaw firms are now paying bonuses largely in “prestige points.”

Vault ranks the prestige of firms based on nearly 17,000 surveys sent to law firm associates all across the country. Just by looking at the top ten firms, I think we can agree that associates who fill out these surveys have no memory and have really enjoyed this period of salary stagnation.

As I mentioned last week when talking about associate hours, it seems Biglaw partners really know what they’re doing. Whether we’re talking about prestige or associate hours, partners have figured out that associates will take less money and like it….

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Craig Primis of Kirkland & Ellis

Earlier this week, we introduced six Washington, D.C. law firm partners chosen by our readers as the best partners to work for.  The next six partners we present to you today come from some of the nation’s finest law firms:  Gibson Dunn, Kirkland & Ellis, Latham & Watkins, Orrick, White & Case, and Willkie Farr.

For more information about these firms generally, visit the Career Center.

Without further ado, let’s find out who these premier partners are . . .

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As multiple tipsters have been telling us, Dave Gordon, managing partner of Latham & Watkins’s New York office is putting down the mantle of leadership. But Gordon will be staying at the firm, continuing his private practice.

James Brandt will be taking over at the Lipstick Building. And of course Robert Dell remains in place as the firm-wide managing partner.

Gordon attracted attention after Latham laid off 440 people a year and a half ago. First-year attorneys were caught up in the layoffs as well, especially in New York. And some of the departed associates left with bitter feelings towards the firm, and Gordon specifically.

But Kirk Davenport, a member of Latham’s executive committee, assured us that last year’s layoffs had nothing to do with Gordon’s new move…

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Back in February 2009, Latham & Watkins laid off 440 people. They weren’t the first firm to lay people off, they weren’t the last, and you can even argue that they didn’t even lay off the most associates in percentage terms.

But somehow Latham has taken a bigger public relations hit because of its layoffs than any other firm. The firm fell ten spots in last year’s Vault rankings. It’s been referenced in New York Times movie reviews in connection with lawyer layoffs. Hell, people turned Latham into a verb, and not a nice verb.

Now, the latest ignominy. The verb “Lathamed” isn’t just in Urban Dictionary; it’s in the Latham & Watkins firm description in the Chambers guide:

In 2008 gross revenue slipped to $2 billion and profits per equity partner were down by 21 percent, according to 2009 Am Law data. The initial response was a number of performance-related layoffs which was followed, in February 2009, by the laying off of another 190 associates and 250 support staff members. Such was the severity of the cuts that the expression “to be Lathamed” (which, by its most polite definition, means “to be laid off”) was coined.

How did it come to this for Latham?

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Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to

Dear ATL,

So I got Lathamed from my job last year.  It was tough but I eventually found a job that I like.  However, I live in constant fear of being Lathamed again.  I guess since it came out of nowhere last time, it really has me on edge (received great feedback on my work product, but things were SLOW).

Other than keep a spare cyanide pill handy just in case, what do I do?  My Lathaming has taught me some lessons about playing politics, but what else can I do other than that and good work?

Also, do you think I may have an IIED claim against my old firm?

– Lathamed

Dear Lathamed,

People expect the world to function in certain predictable ways. If you look good on a date, you expect a call back. If you work hard, you expect to keep your job.  If you do well in law school, you expect $160,000, 0% balance transfer offers and a completely amazing life. Until you get dumped by someone less attractive than you or fired for no reason, you won’t realize that the world is actually made of quicksand and that guts are meant to be sucker-punched.

In this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad world, some people manage portfolios; others manage anxiety.  The fact is, there is nothing you can do to prevent an employer from firing you. Even Bill Clinton was fired and he was the damn President. So you have a choice: have diarrhea for the next few years, or get over yourself and learn to cope with uncertainty. Lucky for you, I’ve spent the past 29 years paralyzed by fear, and I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the most effective strategies I’ve found for managing anxiety.
double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pls Hndle Thx: High Anxiety”