Anonymous User wrote:"For about a year now, Cleary has been laying off staff. I estimate about 30-40 so far. They are doing it one or two people at a time. They have reduced staff through attrition for several years, but now they are just letting people go. They are reassigning, changing schedules, and otherwise driving staff nuts."
"This started about a couple of years ago, when Sheldon Alster became the Managing Partner for the New York office. He is a miserable person and he brought in one Kelly Stevens as Administrator. They have really been busting chops. They even took five sick days away from staff this year from the ten [previously given].
In Cleary’s defense, I have to say it has been a good firm in the past…. Now they’re acting like the firm is in a death spiral."
"So what does this all mean? The times, they are a-changin’. The firms that used to be known as kinder, gentler Biglaw firms, like Cleary and Debevoise, are increasingly focused on the bottom line. Debevoise ditched its trusts and estates practice, essentially because T&E wasn’t paying its own freight. And now Cleary is clearing out unneeded support staff, for basically the same reasons."
I wouldn't really buy this whole "culture" thing, and I think you're probably splitting hairs between Weil & Cleary. Pick the firm that has the better practice group for what you're interested in, and go with the place that has good exits.
There is a big difference between staff layoffs and lawyer layoffs. Does it suck for staff? Yes, but as prospective associate this shouldn't bother you. Anyone who has been in a biglaw office recently knows that the level of staff to lawyers is insane. There are an enormous number of staff who just sit around waiting for stuff to do most of the day: secretaries are barely used by most associates and the partners who rely on them a lot are on the way out, positions like floor messengers are just silly, and the support centers are also over-staffed (increasingly this can be outsourced).
Also, read this article in the WSJ: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... 92346.html
I summered at Cleary and was kind of appalled at the wasted resources on staff. I can't speak to the rumors of stealth associate layoffs, but the firm whole heartedly denies that any such thing ever happened. They did cut their summer class sizes immensely in 2008 and now they are back up to where they were.
Although the culture is a little friendlier than some, the firm's management is super conservative.