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Law firm layoffs are back (assuming they ever left). This is not a complete shock, since we heard predictions of them in January, including predictions of partner layoffs.

Many of these layoffs are stealth layoffs — so some firms might argue that they’re not even layoffs, just performance-based dismissals made in the ordinary course of business. It’s hard for us to report on these unless we receive enough tips. If we hear from a single lawyer or staffer who has been asked to leave, that could be a performance-based dismissal; if we hear from multiple lawyers or staffers at the same firm, that starts to look more like layoffs. If you have layoff information you’d like to share, please email us or text us (646-820-8477).

Now, on to the layoffs at Patton Boggs, D.C.-based law firm and lobbying powerhouse. These reductions were too large to fly under the radar….

Please note the UPDATES below regarding the number of affected employees.

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Last month, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan named a new partner and special counsel. Congratulations to these five worthy lawyers on their promotions.

Alas, not all the news coming out of Stroock is this happy. We’ve just learned that the firm is planning to cut the ranks of its legal secretaries….

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‘Get on your knees and beg for that file!’

Has anyone seen that movie Secretary? It’s about a law firm love affair — woman gets released from mental hospital, gets a job as a legal secretary, and enters into a BDSM relationship with her boss. Pretty standard, really, because you’d have to have some sadomasochistic tendencies to willingly subject yourself to a partner’s whims on a daily basis.

As some of you know (admit it, you do), when these illicit law firm relationships occur, they’re usually only discussed in secret behind closed doors. But when one of the those allegedly involved is an unwilling participant, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away from allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace, and your darkest sexual proclivities will be revealed for all the world to see.

Despite the fact that many women wish they had a Christian Grey to dominate them, it’s a little less sexy when the man who’s allegedly at the center of this would-be torrid affair is just shy of his full retirement age. But hey, even old farts are allowed to dream.

Let’s find out who the players are in this failed office romance. Be sure to remember your safe word….

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Ramiro Ocasio

I don’t even know why I did it, it’s just not me man. I’ve never done anything like this in my life. This is not Ramiro. I’m not a macho guy. I don’t even know how to swim.

Ramiro Ocasio, a records assistant at Kirkland & Ellis, commenting on his subway heroism. Last week, Ocasio selflessly jumped off the subway platform to come to the aid of an elderly man who had fallen onto the tracks. The Q train arrived less than ten seconds after they were out of harm’s way.

As we mentioned over Thanksgiving weekend, the number of people taking the October LSAT is at the lowest point since 1999.

It seems that people are finally, belatedly, getting the message. Going to law school is not a safe bet.

At least not for students. For faculty, teaching at a law school is one of the safest jobs you can have. The only people who lose their jobs at law schools are deans who anger the U.S. News gods, and even then those deans can usually still hang on as professors.

But the economics of running a law school might be turning. One law school has decided to downsize….

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As we reported yesterday, Dean Paul Schiff Berman is leaving the deanship at the George Washington University Law School to assume a university-wide position as GW’s “Vice Provost for Online Education and Academic Innovation.” He’s switching jobs effective January 16, 2013.

Since the news of Dean Berman’s resignation became public, we’ve heard all sorts of rumors about why he’s departing as dean of GW Law. What are the rumors — and is there any truth to them?

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As New York firms are slowly letting people back into the office after Sandy, a midsize Cadadian firm is implementing new procedures to make sure employees stay there.

No, they aren’t spanking people or playing other disturbing psychological games. They’re using electronic fingerprint IDs.

Apparently too many employees were dipping out early and taking extensive lunch breaks. The circle of trust was broken, so now everyone pays the price.

Well, not everyone, exactly. And that’s part of the problem…

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Let’s not play around this year. Let’s not play the cute little game of waiting for Cravath to set the bonus market and then waiting for everybody to inevitably follow Cravath. Let’s not wait for a few outliers to “beat” Cravath while Cravath thinks about maybe doing spring bonuses.

Lower Manhattan is trying to dry off. New Jersey seemingly washed away. If Biglaw wants to help its own people, it’ll get money into their hands as quickly as possible. That’s what will help people in the Tri-State area recover as they clean up from the storm. Biglaw firms should announce (and pay) their bonuses, as soon as possible, so their associates can have some income certainty (and extra income) as they recover.

And Biglaw should end the miserly, recession-era trend of cutting or canceling staff bonuses. This year all the secretaries and paralegals who are being asked to come in and work under unreasonable circumstances should share in the massive profits generated by their firms.

Let’s not mess around. Get the bonuses, whatever they’re going to be, into the hands of the people who have earned them, so they can more easily manage their own personal disasters…

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In light of the possible trouble that may lie ahead for large law firms, it should come as no surprise that some of them are battening down the hatches. One way to prepare for a tough economic climate is to reduce one’s expenses. And one way to reduce expenses is to conduct layoffs, of attorneys or of staff.

But the work, the work that generates revenue for firms, still needs to get done. One way of reducing expenses while still getting all the work done is to outsource certain functions to an outside service provider. This effectively gets job positions “off the books” of the law firm, which no longer has to pay salaries or benefits for the lawyers or staffers in question; the law firm just has to pay the vendor. (This could be viewed as a form of financing; as you may recall, cash-strapped Dewey used vendors for many services — vendors who are now its creditors in bankruptcy.)

Let’s learn about the latest firm that is reducing the ranks of its staff in favor of relying on an outside company….

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I guess Lexington, Massachusetts, wasn’t quite desperate enough to offer a big firm a better deal.

Last month we told you that Biglaw firms have encountered success in putting offices in small cities staffed with non-partner track associates and back office personnel.

The trend now continues with Bingham McCutchen’s announcement that they are opening a “Global Services Center” in Lexington, Kentucky. The center will eventually house 250 employees who will handle administrative support functions for the firm. Some current Bingham employees will be given the option of relocating from Boston to Lexington.

Hmm… this reminds me of another person who went from Kentucky to Boston and then back to Kentucky. “Newbury Street isn’t walking through that door, Bingham staffers. Quincy Market isn’t walking through that door, and Fenway Park isn’t walking through that door. And if they did, you’d still be living in Lexington freaking Kentucky.”

Oh, I kid. In all seriousness, though, and from the firm’s perspective, in-sourcing is clearly the way to go…

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