Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

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NYstate
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby NYstate » Tue Jul 02, 2013 12:47 pm

sundance95 wrote:In the modern biglaw firm where partners don't all know each other, its better to think of the partnership as a whole as shareholders. The fact that partner X cares about her associates might matter in a firm where all the other partners know partner X, and thus might be swayed by her--but when a firm has hundreds of partners sprinkled through dozens of offices, the partnership will makes decisions like a corporation would, i.e., based on $$$ and $$$ only.


Yes, I agree that it is a bottom line mentality. My point was in response to the idea that big law is a completely heartless place. I haven't found that to be true.

Even the laid off folks mentioned in the OP are getting 6 months to find another job. That seems fairly generous.

To me the most important point is that everyone remembers that big law isn't a stable career by any means. Even many partners have no permanent security. The question is how best to protect yourself in this environment. I think part of it is keeping as many contacts as you can and developing specific skills in different areas. Working long hours alone won't protect you.

I also think that minimizing debt is crucial for protecting yourself for the future. But there is often a trade off with school prestige. Ive found that prestige might get you the job; but it isn't going to keep you the job. No firm looks at the list of associates and decides who to keep based on school. People from Harvard get fired just the same as anyone else.

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NinerFan
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby NinerFan » Tue Jul 02, 2013 1:56 pm

NYstate wrote:
sundance95 wrote:In the modern biglaw firm where partners don't all know each other, its better to think of the partnership as a whole as shareholders. The fact that partner X cares about her associates might matter in a firm where all the other partners know partner X, and thus might be swayed by her--but when a firm has hundreds of partners sprinkled through dozens of offices, the partnership will makes decisions like a corporation would, i.e., based on $$$ and $$$ only.


Yes, I agree that it is a bottom line mentality. My point was in response to the idea that big law is a completely heartless place. I haven't found that to be true.

Even the laid off folks mentioned in the OP are getting 6 months to find another job. That seems fairly generous.

To me the most important point is that everyone remembers that big law isn't a stable career by any means. Even many partners have no permanent security. The question is how best to protect yourself in this environment. I think part of it is keeping as many contacts as you can and developing specific skills in different areas. Working long hours alone won't protect you.

I also think that minimizing debt is crucial for protecting yourself for the future. But there is often a trade off with school prestige. Ive found that prestige might get you the job; but it isn't going to keep you the job. No firm looks at the list of associates and decides who to keep based on school. People from Harvard get fired just the same as anyone else.


6 months to find a job isn't really true. They're getting 6 months of severance. If they were getting 6 months to find a job, they'd still "employed". Now instead of being able to look for a job while "employed" they get to look for a job while unemployed.

But, at least they didn't get stealthed.

imchuckbass58
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby imchuckbass58 » Tue Jul 02, 2013 3:17 pm

Desert Fox wrote:But what is the force attrition rate at these places? I don't see why getting laid off in a group is WAY WORSE than quietly being told to get the fuck out.


Being laid off is absolutely way worse than getting quietly told you should start looking for a job in the next 6 months.

It is notoriously hard for firms to tell how good an associate you are (unless you're quite senior). If you're still employed, you can validly claim to be as good as anyone out there. Nobody on the outside (and most people on the inside) don't know you're being pushed out. When you're laid off, you are seen as damaged goods, justifiably or not. Sure, you can make all the arguments you want about it being economy-related or your group just being slow, but the fact of the matter is that unless they're axing an entire office or group, firms do not lay off their best associates.

The other benefit is you don't have a gun to your head. If you're laid off en masse, you're out competing with lots of other laid off associates with identical experience to you, and you need to find a job ASAP. Having a 6 month runway allows you to be more selective in what opportunities you look at, at least at the beginning. Firms also don't tend to do forced attrition en masse so there's less competition.

From seeing this up close in another similar industry (consulting) it is WAY easier to find a position if you are still employed than if you just get laid off.

Also, a stealth layoff isn't the same as forced attrition. Every single firm (Wachtell, W&C and Muger included) has forced attrition of underperforming associates. A stealth layoff implies artificially increasing the rate of forced attrition not because of any underperformance, but because the firm is doing shitty. It's hard to tell from the outside, but from that perspective there are many firms who can validly claim not to have done stealth layoffs (Cravath, DPW, Cleary, and Debevoise come to mind).

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sundance95
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby sundance95 » Tue Jul 02, 2013 3:21 pm

imchuckbass58 wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:But what is the force attrition rate at these places? I don't see why getting laid off in a group is WAY WORSE than quietly being told to get the fuck out.


the fact of the matter is that unless they're axing an entire office or group, firms do not lay off their best associates.

Fair points, but to be clear, the bolded is exactly what Weil did, correct?

timbs4339
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby timbs4339 » Tue Jul 02, 2013 3:26 pm

anon168 wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:
anon168 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Honestly, I would not bid Weil right now. Same for Latham.

The Latham thing never ceases to amaze me. The clipped 400 total people, 200+ associates (many first years) in one fell swoop and will do it again immediately if they need to. Why would you want to work for a firm that has that sort of philosophy?


I think people here need to understand something.

When you decide to bid and work for biglaw (a choice, by the way, that is made voluntarily) you agree to be treated as a commodity. A fungible commodity, at that.

A biglaw associate, especially a junior one like a 1st year, is about as essential as that blue pen in the supply room. Faceless, nameless, and really all not that much different from the other 1st year associate across the hall.

Biglaw cares not about you as a person, your family, your feelings, or your well-being beyond the fact that they might somehow directly or indirectly contribute to the firm's bottom line.

No one, and I mean no one (partners included) are immune from being laid off at biglaw. It is what it is. It is the bargain you agree to when you join biglaw.

If you are uncomfortable with that arrangement, then by all means do not go work for a biglaw firm. Do something else.

Sitting here and complaining about "layoffs" at biglaw is counterproductive.


I'm not sure what you have against people sharing information to help others make informed decisions. Isn't that what you free market rational actor zealots say is the glue that holds society together?


Sharing is one thing. Whining about it is another.

It's the latter that is pervasive here.

No one needs TLS for information about the layoffs. The popular press is already all over it.


And you're in here celebrating these layoffs. Biglaw layoffs aren't a new thing, they aren't industry standard, and firms try to avoid them if they can. Your "real talk" is equally as pointless as what you call "whining."

Morgan12Oak
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby Morgan12Oak » Tue Jul 02, 2013 3:50 pm

You guys do realize that there are layoffs other than mass layoffs announced in Bloomberg right? Firms layoff associates all the time, just not in mass quantities. Everyone here probably knows of several people, I know I do, who have known/been stealthed at firms ranging the gamut across the V100. These just aren't reported because Bloomberg or WSJ isn't going to write an article about how some V10 told 2 associates that they are being fired.

imchuckbass58
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby imchuckbass58 » Tue Jul 02, 2013 3:55 pm

sundance95 wrote:
imchuckbass58 wrote:the fact of the matter is that unless they're axing an entire office or group, firms do not lay off their best associates.

Fair points, but to be clear, the bolded is exactly what Weil did, correct?


Partially, yes. From what I understand that's what happened in Houston and Boston. But there were people laid off in bankruptcy in NY and corporate in NY as well.

itbdvorm
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby itbdvorm » Tue Jul 02, 2013 4:13 pm

Morgan12Oak wrote:You guys do realize that there are layoffs other than mass layoffs announced in Bloomberg right? Firms layoff associates all the time, just not in mass quantities. Everyone here probably knows of several people, I know I do, who have known/been stealthed at firms ranging the gamut across the V100. These just aren't reported because Bloomberg or WSJ isn't going to write an article about how some V10 told 2 associates that they are being fired.


Exactly. This is the key point. And since two of the three "safe" firms I mentioned are apparently not as safe as I had believed, and the "safe, lockstep" firms that keep being mentioned have all had layoffs to various degrees, we're left with Wachtell.


anon168
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby anon168 » Tue Jul 02, 2013 4:48 pm

timbs4339 wrote:
And you're in here celebrating these layoffs. Biglaw layoffs aren't a new thing, they aren't industry standard, and firms try to avoid them if they can. Your "real talk" is equally as pointless as what you call "whining."


I'm not in here celebrating anything.

I just want people who are entering the legal workforce to do so with their eyes WIDE open.

I've lost close friends to layoffs. But it is what it is.

aces
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby aces » Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:17 am

imchuckbass58 wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:But what is the force attrition rate at these places? I don't see why getting laid off in a group is WAY WORSE than quietly being told to get the fuck out.


Being laid off is absolutely way worse than getting quietly told you should start looking for a job in the next 6 months.

It is notoriously hard for firms to tell how good an associate you are (unless you're quite senior). If you're still employed, you can validly claim to be as good as anyone out there. Nobody on the outside (and most people on the inside) don't know you're being pushed out. When you're laid off, you are seen as damaged goods, justifiably or not. Sure, you can make all the arguments you want about it being economy-related or your group just being slow, but the fact of the matter is that unless they're axing an entire office or group, firms do not lay off their best associates.

The other benefit is you don't have a gun to your head. If you're laid off en masse, you're out competing with lots of other laid off associates with identical experience to you, and you need to find a job ASAP. Having a 6 month runway allows you to be more selective in what opportunities you look at, at least at the beginning. Firms also don't tend to do forced attrition en masse so there's less competition.

From seeing this up close in another similar industry (consulting) it is WAY easier to find a position if you are still employed than if you just get laid off.

Also, a stealth layoff isn't the same as forced attrition. Every single firm (Wachtell, W&C and Muger included) has forced attrition of underperforming associates. A stealth layoff implies artificially increasing the rate of forced attrition not because of any underperformance, but because the firm is doing shitty. It's hard to tell from the outside, but from that perspective there are many firms who can validly claim not to have done stealth layoffs (Cravath, DPW, Cleary, and Debevoise come to mind).


This is an excellent post and shouldn't get lost in the wash.

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Summerz
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby Summerz » Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:46 am

imchuckbass58 wrote:Being laid off is absolutely way worse than getting quietly told you should start looking for a job in the next 6 months.


Agreed (laid off is the worst). During this six month "notice" period, what is going on? Is the person under notice showing up at the office pretending to be working? I can’t imagine the firm would hand this person any significant assignments. But I assume that they would let the person keep h/her phone, email address and he/she would continue to be listed on their web site. Under no circumstance can I envision management telling an employee you’re fired but keep working here for the next six months… for starters, word gets around and then there’s the whole attitude issue. I am not saying that it’s never happened but it certainly seems implausible.

imchuckbass58
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby imchuckbass58 » Wed Jul 03, 2013 9:00 am

Summerz wrote:Agreed (laid off is the worst). During this six month "notice" period, what is going on? Is the person under notice showing up at the office pretending to be working? I can’t imagine the firm would hand this person any significant assignments. But I assume that they would let the person keep h/her phone, email address and he/she would continue to be listed on their web site. Under no circumstance can I envision management telling an employee you’re fired but keep working here for the next six months… for starters, word gets around and then there’s the whole attitude issue. I am not saying that it’s never happened but it certainly seems implausible.


As far as I've ever seen, you just aren't given work anymore (or are given minimal work), but you still have your office, email, etc. It's basically your full time job (for 3 months or 6 months or whatever) to look for another job, but you have the benefit of still being employed. Maybe there are some places that actually make you work, but I think that would be a a bad idea because you have no motivation to do a good job.

timbs4339
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby timbs4339 » Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:38 pm

anon168 wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:
And you're in here celebrating these layoffs. Biglaw layoffs aren't a new thing, they aren't industry standard, and firms try to avoid them if they can. Your "real talk" is equally as pointless as what you call "whining."


I'm not in here celebrating anything.

I just want people who are entering the legal workforce to do so with their eyes WIDE open.

I've lost close friends to layoffs. But it is what it is.


Like six pages ago

anon168 wrote:This is actually a positive sign.

If only more firms would be more willing to layoff associates and do it in a more open fashion the legal industry would be healthier and better.


In every layoff thread I've ever seen, right on the heel of the "whiners" come people like you who are just chomping at the bit to tell people how worthless they are and that they should bend over with a smile for the do-no-wrong people running this profession because *free market LOL*. There's being realistic and then there's being an asshole.
Last edited by timbs4339 on Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:39 pm

timbs4339 wrote:
anon168 wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:
And you're in here celebrating these layoffs. Biglaw layoffs aren't a new thing, they aren't industry standard, and firms try to avoid them if they can. Your "real talk" is equally as pointless as what you call "whining."


I'm not in here celebrating anything.

I just want people who are entering the legal workforce to do so with their eyes WIDE open.

I've lost close friends to layoffs. But it is what it is.


Like six pages ago

anon168 wrote:This is actually a positive sign.

If only more firms would be more willing to layoff associates and do it in a more open fashion the legal industry would be healthier and better.


180.

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:40 pm

Can this thread also be about the Wilmer layoffs? It looks like their IP practice is downsizing in anticipation of Bill Lee's possible retirement and the winding up of all the mobile phone patent wars. Do you guys think this has broader implications for IP lit, or is Wilmer an isolated case?

sirpartner82
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby sirpartner82 » Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:42 pm

looks like Patton Boggs is going down the toilet too:

http://legaltimes.typepad.com/blt/2013/ ... uador.html

Don't know if anyone ever considered this dump a real Biglaw firm anyway, but doesn't matter anymore since they're toast by Labor Day or end of this year at the latest.

Also huge LOL at these paper-churners trying to lobby anyone- lobbying is for kidz with outgoing schmooze and skillz, not lifeless drone paper-churners who "synthesize appellate caselaw" and other makework, clockwatching nonsense.

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cantaboot
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby cantaboot » Wed Jul 03, 2013 1:45 pm

I know someone who used to work with Wilmer (boston). He left in march for a small IP firm.

PMan99
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Re: Layoffs back? Weil cutting associates

Postby PMan99 » Thu Jul 04, 2013 11:47 am

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:
anon168 wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:
And you're in here celebrating these layoffs. Biglaw layoffs aren't a new thing, they aren't industry standard, and firms try to avoid them if they can. Your "real talk" is equally as pointless as what you call "whining."


I'm not in here celebrating anything.

I just want people who are entering the legal workforce to do so with their eyes WIDE open.

I've lost close friends to layoffs. But it is what it is.


Like six pages ago

anon168 wrote:This is actually a positive sign.

If only more firms would be more willing to layoff associates and do it in a more open fashion the legal industry would be healthier and better.


180.




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