Williams Lea

When it comes to Biglaw word-processing jobs, Williams Lea is the grim reaper. As we’ve chronicled in these pages, numerous leading law firms have outsourced their word processing and proofreading functions to this prominent provider.

This has led to layoffs — lots and lots of layoffs. Some affected employees have been sad, and some have been angry. One complained of the “callous disregard for the welfare of long-time Foley [& Lardner] employees” that a Williams Lea takeover displayed.

But could these changes be beneficial — not just for law firm bottom lines, but for the affected individuals? The latest law firm to outsource its WP and proofreading functions, one of the most prestigious and profitable firms in all the land, makes the case….

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One of the more entertaining SNL skits ever was “The Ladies Man.” Tim Meadows portrayed “Leon Phelps,” a call-in show host with all the right (read: cheesy and/or sketchy) answers for your romantic queries.

And then it followed SNL tradition by becoming a really awful movie. Sigh.

But perhaps the tradition of Leon Phelps lived on in a Biglaw mailroom, where allegations have surfaced that a supervisor might have penned erotic poetry to woo an underling.

Let’s crack open a bottle of Courvoisier and check it out…

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George Zimmerman: Not Guilty

* Size matters when it comes to hourly rates. Because when you work in Biglaw, it’ll be all the more odious for your poor clients when you “churn that bill, baby.” [Corporate Counsel]

* Would you want this Cadwalader cad, a former mailroom supervisor, at your “erotic disposal”? The object of his affections didn’t want him either, and she’s suing. [New York Daily News]

* In the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict, the NAACP is pressing for federal charges and a civil suit may be in the works. This trial isn’t over in the court of public opinion. [Bloomberg]

* This experience inspired George Zimmerman, fresh off his acquittal, to go to law school to help the wrongfully accused. If it makes you feel better, when he graduates, he’ll be unemployed. [Reuters]

* Here’s the lesson learned by Prop 8 proponents: If at first you don’t succeed at the Supreme Court, try, try again at the state level and base your arguments on technicalities. [Los Angeles Times]

* You do not want this patent troll — one of the most notorious in the country — to “go thug” on you. Apparently this is just another danger of alleged infringement in the modern world. [New York Times]

* Asiana Airlines is considering suing the NTSB and a California television station over the airing of “inaccurate and offensive” information (read: wildly racist) about the pilots of Flight 214. [CNN]

* Ariel Castro was slapped with an additional 648 counts in the kidnapping case against him, bringing the total to 977. Prosecutors are not yet seeking the death penalty. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]


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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Over the past few weeks, we’ve been in touch with dozens of people affected by the downfall of Dewey & LeBoeuf. In terms of reactions, two emotions have predominated: sadness at what has happened to a once-great law firm, and anger towards those viewed as blameworthy.

But there have been other responses as well, of a more odd nature. Here are two illustrative, somewhat amusing stories….

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Dewey & LeBoeuf's sign at 1301 Avenue of the Americas. (Photo by David Lat. Feel free to use.)

“Our catering service requires a credit card; client matter numbers no longer accepted. Seamless food ordering requires a credit card or a corporate card.”

“It’s not clear that we still have health insurance.”

“Dewey has cut off subscriptions, and expenses are no longer being reimbursed.”

“Everyone is pretty much packing up. Bankers boxes are on backorder in supplies.”

“Dewey is quietly removing the art from the walls. Perhaps it belongs to the creditors?”

These are some of the sad stories we’re hearing out of Dewey & LeBoeuf today. Let’s discuss the latest news and rumor coming out of the deeply troubled law firm….

Multiple UPDATES and new links, after the jump (at the very end of this post). The Dewey story is moving so quickly that we will do multiple updates to our existing posts instead of writing a new post every time there’s a little additional news to report. Otherwise half of the stories on our front page would be about Dewey, and there is other Biglaw news to report — e.g., the new profit-per-partner rankings from Am Law, salacious lawsuits against prominent D.C. law firms, etc.

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Over the summer, we wondered: what can law firms do to prepare for a possible double-dip recession?

One obvious answer: firms can “right-size” themselves, by making sure that they are as lean and as mean as they can be. And this seems to be what has been happening over the past few months.

We haven’t seen much in terms of lawyer layoffs lately, but staff layoffs are another story. In fact, on the staff side, we seem to be looking at a trend of firms reducing their permanent staff positions in favor of outsourcing.

Since August, we’ve learned of staff layoffs at O’Melveny & Myers (75 positions) and Paul Hastings (45 positions) — both as a result of domestic outsourcing to outside service providers. In addition, Pillsbury Winthrop announced that it might have to cut staffers who aren’t willing to relocate to its new Professional Services Center in Nashville. This prompted us to ask: Is On-Shore Outsourcing the Biglaw Wave of the Future?

The answer seems to be yes. Today we bring you news of additional staff reductions, at Fulbright & Jaworski and Goodwin Procter, both involving outsourcing….

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The big news this morning is bad news for the staff at O’Melveny & Myers. News started leaking out last night that the firm would be laying off 75 support staff members.

The firm has confirmed the news that was first published in The Recorder.

Approximately half the of the laid-off O’Melveny staffers will be cut outright. The other half will have the opportunity to be relocated to scenic West Virginia….

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