Fired from biglaw this week

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Fired from biglaw this week

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 23, 2017 12:53 pm

I'm a mid-level litigation associate at a V20 firm in a major market. I lateralled to this firm two years ago, and moved from another city to do so.

I've been slow for almost the entire time I've been here, and it feels like people just forgot I existed. The office I work in is a major office for the firm, but most of the work in my group is run out of other offices. I probably billed around 1500 hours last year, plus a ton of pro bono for the fun of it and the experience. This year was even slower, despite my practically begging for work. My reviews in the past were good (but not great).

At my evaluation, the partner doing to review said that things weren't working out, and said the main reason was the lack of hours. I asked why my hours were low, despite repeatedly checking in with partners in my office and in other offices, and received a vague answer. I asked if my work product had been bad, and was told that there were hints in my reviews that there were problems with work product, but nothing specific. I was told I'll be employed for another two weeks, and paid for another three months after that. The three months salary (and staying on the firm website) is contingent on signing a release outlining the terms of my firing. I have not signed it yet.

I've been in shellshock since then, and have a pregnant wife who is also a stay at home mom. I'm not completely freaking out because I'd been looking for new opportunities, both in-house and at other firms, and have had a couple of interviews, but nothing had panned out.

A few questions:

1. Has this happened to anyone else? A straight-up firing, as opposed to "you have X months to find something else"?

2. Is it viable to switch to a different practice area? My practice is fairly specialized (don't want to give more detail for fear of outing myself). I was thinking white-collar/investigations work, but not sure.

3. Is it viable to negotiate either: more severance, or extra time on the firm's website? Three months runs to the end of October, which is right around the time that firm hiring picks up. I'm really worried that not being on the firm's website at that time is fatal to my chances at going to another firm.

4. I'm also exploring non-legal positions. Has anyone switched from, for example, biglaw to management consulting?

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby jarofsoup » Sun Jul 23, 2017 1:01 pm

I mean you were given your three months, so I think this is the standard termination. Atleast they don't expect you to show up every day or do work.

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby jarofsoup » Sun Jul 23, 2017 1:22 pm

And focus on getting any job period. You want it to look like you left your firm voluntarily.

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 23, 2017 3:43 pm

Sorry about your situation. Check this out: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=275526 It happens more often than you think.

The firm will want you to land in a good spot in order to keep the drama minimal. Keep them updated on your job search, and they might be willing to work with you if you need an extension for how long your name appears on the website. Also make sure that they will say that you're still employed when future employers call. That is critical. You might want to get that worked into your release.

Keep your head up and things will work out.

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby elendinel » Sun Jul 23, 2017 4:10 pm

1. To be fair that's what they did; they're giving you 3 months to figure something else out. Just not while working for them. At least now you'll have time to really get into the interview process.

2. Depends on what your practice is and how easily your skills translate. Switching from corporate to white collar lit is going to be a hard sell, but corporate to GC isn't. That said I recently made a move from one field to a completely different one by selling the s**t out of the overlapping skills I developed and by being able to show a demonstrated interest in the new field in particular, so even if there's a wide gulf, you could sell it if your pro bono work somehow correlates to the job you want, even if your true practice group doesn't.

3. Unlikely you'll get more severance given the circumstances, but you can ask them if they'll let you stay on the firm website until the end of the year. An extra couple months may not hurt them. Ideally you should have something before then, though. Good luck.

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby Lacepiece23 » Sun Jul 23, 2017 6:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a mid-level litigation associate at a V20 firm in a major market. I lateralled to this firm two years ago, and moved from another city to do so.

I've been slow for almost the entire time I've been here, and it feels like people just forgot I existed. The office I work in is a major office for the firm, but most of the work in my group is run out of other offices. I probably billed around 1500 hours last year, plus a ton of pro bono for the fun of it and the experience. This year was even slower, despite my practically begging for work. My reviews in the past were good (but not great).

At my evaluation, the partner doing to review said that things weren't working out, and said the main reason was the lack of hours. I asked why my hours were low, despite repeatedly checking in with partners in my office and in other offices, and received a vague answer. I asked if my work product had been bad, and was told that there were hints in my reviews that there were problems with work product, but nothing specific. I was told I'll be employed for another two weeks, and paid for another three months after that. The three months salary (and staying on the firm website) is contingent on signing a release outlining the terms of my firing. I have not signed it yet.

I've been in shellshock since then, and have a pregnant wife who is also a stay at home mom. I'm not completely freaking out because I'd been looking for new opportunities, both in-house and at other firms, and have had a couple of interviews, but nothing had panned out.

A few questions:

1. Has this happened to anyone else? A straight-up firing, as opposed to "you have X months to find something else"?

2. Is it viable to switch to a different practice area? My practice is fairly specialized (don't want to give more detail for fear of outing myself). I was thinking white-collar/investigations work, but not sure.

3. Is it viable to negotiate either: more severance, or extra time on the firm's website? Three months runs to the end of October, which is right around the time that firm hiring picks up. I'm really worried that not being on the firm's website at that time is fatal to my chances at going to another firm.

4. I'm also exploring non-legal positions. Has anyone switched from, for example, biglaw to management consulting?



Honesty, you made it three years in biglaw and didn't have to bill that many hours to do it. If you still want to do biglaw, you'll likely find something. If not, just go do something else. Not a bad situation to be in imho.

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 23, 2017 6:49 pm

I worked at Latham during the downturn. This was completely standard back then, and in some cases, they would tell people, "You were slow, you should have known" and gave the attorney NO severance at all. Just...leave today. Your firm is being kinder.

I would try to negotiate to be on the website longer. You don't have much negotiating leverage though.

Also, being let go like this is better for collecting unemployment too (as opposed to resigning)...make sure you ask how that works with your HR contact.

Good luck!

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 23, 2017 7:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I worked at Latham during the downturn. This was completely standard back then, and in some cases, they would tell people, "You were slow, you should have known" and gave the attorney NO severance at all. Just...leave today. Your firm is being kinder.

I would try to negotiate to be on the website longer. You don't have much negotiating leverage though.

Also, being let go like this is better for collecting unemployment too (as opposed to resigning)...make sure you ask how that works with your HR contact.

Good luck!


Tangentially, did you get fired or leave or still there?

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 23, 2017 10:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a mid-level litigation associate at a V20 firm in a major market. I lateralled to this firm two years ago, and moved from another city to do so.

I've been slow for almost the entire time I've been here, and it feels like people just forgot I existed. The office I work in is a major office for the firm, but most of the work in my group is run out of other offices. I probably billed around 1500 hours last year, plus a ton of pro bono for the fun of it and the experience. This year was even slower, despite my practically begging for work. My reviews in the past were good (but not great).

At my evaluation, the partner doing to review said that things weren't working out, and said the main reason was the lack of hours. I asked why my hours were low, despite repeatedly checking in with partners in my office and in other offices, and received a vague answer. I asked if my work product had been bad, and was told that there were hints in my reviews that there were problems with work product, but nothing specific. I was told I'll be employed for another two weeks, and paid for another three months after that. The three months salary (and staying on the firm website) is contingent on signing a release outlining the terms of my firing. I have not signed it yet.

I've been in shellshock since then, and have a pregnant wife who is also a stay at home mom. I'm not completely freaking out because I'd been looking for new opportunities, both in-house and at other firms, and have had a couple of interviews, but nothing had panned out.

A few questions:

1. Has this happened to anyone else? A straight-up firing, as opposed to "you have X months to find something else"?

2. Is it viable to switch to a different practice area? My practice is fairly specialized (don't want to give more detail for fear of outing myself). I was thinking white-collar/investigations work, but not sure.

3. Is it viable to negotiate either: more severance, or extra time on the firm's website? Three months runs to the end of October, which is right around the time that firm hiring picks up. I'm really worried that not being on the firm's website at that time is fatal to my chances at going to another firm.

4. I'm also exploring non-legal positions. Has anyone switched from, for example, biglaw to management consulting?


I'm in a somewhat similar boat, except that I'm a couple months further into it than you. Some thoughts below.

1. You got the "X months to find something else" talk. And it happens to a lot of people. You were not fired. You could technically think of yourself as being laid off. More constructively, you can think of yourself as still employed by the firm (you are), and in a transition period while you figure out what to do next.

2. No idea. You can give it a shot, but I think the most important thing in finding a new job is to be relatively focused. When you start doing too many things, you spread yourself thin and start encountering a lot of failure, which could dampen your spirits and fuck with your head.

3. I don't know. Firms don't want you to go running to above the law (or TLS, for that matter) and shitting all over them, so there's some incentive for them to help you out. That said, they have a lot more leverage than you do. I just signed the release without trying to negotiate it, but I do sort of wish that I'd hashed it out with them first.

4. I had the same thought, because honestly I'd been kind of miserable in the law, and I wondered if maybe being a consultant would be better. I concluded that a lot of my misery was due to stress from lack of hours, and that if I could land at a busier shop I'd be less miserable. Plus, law is the devil I know, and I don't have to acquire a brand new skillset if I want to stay in the profession. I think that considering a transition to management consulting is more of a knee jerk reaction to being laid off, rather than a truly viable option.

Good luck, man. If you're a mid-level coming out of a V20, you should have some firms that are willing to take a look during your 3 month (or longer) timeline. I'd try to remember that you weren't treated fairly at your prior firm, and that you now have a chance to find another position where you will be treated more fairly. In some ways, this could be a pretty lucky break for you. Try to keep your spirits up, and I hope it all works out for you.

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 24, 2017 7:09 am

OP, pretty sure I am that the same firm as you and got the same "talk"

1. Yes, happens all the time. From what I was told, revenue is flat and the firm decided to cut fat for the first time in a while.

2. Depends how agressive firms are in hiring for that new area and if they are willing to hire people from outside of it. You can feel it out through recruiters.

3. They won't put anything in writing, but you may get them to orally agree for more website time if your not yet employed at the end of the 3 months.

4. I've been exploring non-legal positions for 6 years. It's very tough, really need to network hard, get folks from MBB to recommend you for an interview and then practice cases with you. Super different then a lateral law firm interview. Good luck.

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:56 am

Anonymous User wrote:
I'm in a somewhat similar boat, except that I'm a couple months further into it than you. Some thoughts below.

1. You got the "X months to find something else" talk. And it happens to a lot of people. You were not fired. You could technically think of yourself as being laid off. More constructively, you can think of yourself as still employed by the firm (you are), and in a transition period while you figure out what to do next.

2. No idea. You can give it a shot, but I think the most important thing in finding a new job is to be relatively focused. When you start doing too many things, you spread yourself thin and start encountering a lot of failure, which could dampen your spirits and fuck with your head.

3. I don't know. Firms don't want you to go running to above the law (or TLS, for that matter) and shitting all over them, so there's some incentive for them to help you out. That said, they have a lot more leverage than you do. I just signed the release without trying to negotiate it, but I do sort of wish that I'd hashed it out with them first.

4. I had the same thought, because honestly I'd been kind of miserable in the law, and I wondered if maybe being a consultant would be better. I concluded that a lot of my misery was due to stress from lack of hours, and that if I could land at a busier shop I'd be less miserable. Plus, law is the devil I know, and I don't have to acquire a brand new skillset if I want to stay in the profession. I think that considering a transition to management consulting is more of a knee jerk reaction to being laid off, rather than a truly viable option.

Good luck, man. If you're a mid-level coming out of a V20, you should have some firms that are willing to take a look during your 3 month (or longer) timeline. I'd try to remember that you weren't treated fairly at your prior firm, and that you now have a chance to find another position where you will be treated more fairly. In some ways, this could be a pretty lucky break for you. Try to keep your spirits up, and I hope it all works out for you.


OP here.

I'd been looking at switching to management consulting for a while now, but have held off because of concerns about the travel. I worked in software consulting prior to law school, so I know how brutal that can be, and that was when I was single and didn't have a kid. While software consulting is not the same as what MBB do, some of the skills do translate.

Valid point re: staying focused, but the situation feels scary, especially when considering that hiring is supposed to slow down during Q3. I guess I can hope that a firm has an immediate need, but that's about it.

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:14 am

OP again. I appreciate everyone's responses - they're very helpful.

Anonymous User wrote:OP, pretty sure I am that the same firm as you and got the same "talk"


It's possible. It's possible that I said "V20" to preserve anonymity - my soon to be former firm could just as easily be higher than that. :)

1. Yes, happens all the time. From what I was told, revenue is flat and the firm decided to cut fat for the first time in a while.

2. Depends how agressive firms are in hiring for that new area and if they are willing to hire people from outside of it. You can feel it out through recruiters.


Interesting. I have a call with a recruiter this afternoon to discuss this. Should I tell the recruiter what happened?

I work in IP lit, FWIW, and the list of open positions seems pretty small right now, especially given the uncertainty in the law over the last few years.

3. They won't put anything in writing, but you may get them to orally agree for more website time if your not yet employed at the end of the 3 months.


The consensus seems to be that they might agree to more website time, but won't agree to more severance. Given the circumstances, it seems like asking for more severance is a waste of time. If this really is a "stealth layoff," then it makes sense to just ask for more website time straight up. Is that an accurate representation of the thoughts here?

4. I've been exploring non-legal positions for 6 years. It's very tough, really need to network hard, get folks from MBB to recommend you for an interview and then practice cases with you. Super different then a lateral law firm interview. Good luck.


Thank you. I guess my perspective is that looking for law firm jobs (and in-house jobs for that matter) doesn't involve that much "work." I've got the time to work on case interview skills, and thus the risk is mostly lost time that wouldn't be productive otherwise.

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:31 am

OP, is there a reason you are only concentrating on MBB for consulting? Big 4 firms have consulting practices and are generally easier to get into and still pay well. There are other strategy firms as well that do similar work to MBB, and may like your IP background even more if they are in the tech field.

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:38 am

Anonymous User wrote:OP, is there a reason you are only concentrating on MBB for consulting? Big 4 firms have consulting practices and are generally easier to get into and still pay well. There are other strategy firms as well that do similar work to MBB, and may like your IP background even more if they are in the tech field.


No reason at all. MBB just happen to be the kings of the field. I'll obviously consider the other firms as well. Who do you think would like an IP background and is in the tech field?

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:54 am

Anonymous User wrote:No reason at all. MBB just happen to be the kings of the field. I'll obviously consider the other firms as well. Who do you think would like an IP background and is in the tech field?


Not any of the above posters, but check out Applied Predictive Technologies (APT). They are a consulting company that also develops software that they sell to their clients to provide ongoing optimization/analytics. Your background in IP and software consulting might be a plus for them.

Anonymous User wrote:The consensus seems to be that they might agree to more website time, but won't agree to more severance. Given the circumstances, it seems like asking for more severance is a waste of time. If this really is a "stealth layoff," then it makes sense to just ask for more website time straight up. Is that an accurate representation of the thoughts here?


Yes, me and the other posters agree to ask for more website time. They don't usually give additional severance unless a partner can go to bat for you.

In any event, start looking now. Lateral moves to other firms/in-house/outside of law may take a long time to complete.

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP, is there a reason you are only concentrating on MBB for consulting? Big 4 firms have consulting practices and are generally easier to get into and still pay well. There are other strategy firms as well that do similar work to MBB, and may like your IP background even more if they are in the tech field.


No reason at all. MBB just happen to be the kings of the field. I'll obviously consider the other firms as well. Who do you think would like an IP background and is in the tech field?


I would check out tech consulting and regulatory practices that hit the tech field across consulting firms. Big 4 firms have decent sized tech consulting groups (its not sexy, but it pays the bills and you can work on some decent projects with big name clients). Not sure of any tech specific firms, but there should be plenty of information out there on them.

I honestly wouldn't waste too much time trying to MBB, chances of that happening are so slim and case interviews take a lot of time to master. Unless other firms have similar interview processes, then worth a shot to try, but trying to get MBB is going to be extremely tough.

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Yes, me and the other posters agree to ask for more website time. They don't usually give additional severance unless a partner can go to bat for you.

In any event, start looking now. Lateral moves to other firms/in-house/outside of law may take a long time to complete.


OP here. I already have - I'd been looking for several months, but had also been picky. I've got a call with a recruiter this afternoon - should I mention what's happened to the recruiter?

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. I already have - I'd been looking for several months, but had also been picky. I've got a call with a recruiter this afternoon - should I mention what's happened to the recruiter?


Yes, the recruiter should know you are working against a deadline. They will not (or should not, if they are any good) drop you for being pushed out because they see it all the time. Keep the recruiter on a short leash though - they should find you good positions, not any position just to offload you before time expires. Feel the recruiter out during the call - if they don't really understand your goals or if they seem shifty don't use them.

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:45 pm

i had the same thing happen to me recently. I was at Sidley.

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Yes, me and the other posters agree to ask for more website time. They don't usually give additional severance unless a partner can go to bat for you.

In any event, start looking now. Lateral moves to other firms/in-house/outside of law may take a long time to complete.


OP here. I already have - I'd been looking for several months, but had also been picky. I've got a call with a recruiter this afternoon - should I mention what's happened to the recruiter?


Since you have 3 months (at least) I'm not sure you need to tell your recruiter. I was told by someone who does legal career counseling that I shouldn't tell my recruiter- no idea if they were right though. Part of me thinks the recruiter won't care since they just want to get paid, but maybe they won't place you with certain firms if it's a super valuable relationship for them.

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 24, 2017 7:26 pm

I'm in the exact same situation as OP. Is it acceptable to maintain that I am still employed by the firm?

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 24, 2017 7:40 pm

I got a similar talk last month, I'm about halfway through my 3 months. I'm a mid level in corporate and after a lull around July 4th, it's been pretty busy with interviews, both firms and in-house, and honestly not having to go into the office or deal with emails has made interviewing a lot easier logistically. I've found recruiters to actually be pretty helpful, getting a much higher response rate through applications they submit than if I fire off a resume/cover letter to a posting online directly, though you have to make sure they're only submitting you for positions you actually want and keep track to make sure they don't submit you for anything you (or another recruiter) has already sent in a resume to. I think the key is just to apply as broadly as possibly (obviously) though recruiters, linkedin, job boards, career postings on firm and corporate websites, etc., and also to have a really good answer for why you're moving on and applying. If you're switching markets, like I am, that's a ready made explanation (though I get questioned on why I don't just go to my firm's office in the new market, so have to have a good answer there too), though for each place you can focus on how that firm/in-house has strengths your current firm doesn't have.

The first week or so I was pretty paralyzed by the whole thing, even though my hours were dipping too and I kinda felt it was coming. It's hard to focus on applying for things when you get the news but it's the best way to move forward and once you're no longer in the office anymore, it gets a lot better actually and you can focus on the job search full time.

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby Pokemon » Mon Jul 24, 2017 7:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm in the exact same situation as OP. Is it acceptable to maintain that I am still employed by the firm?



I think that is consensus, especially if still in firm website and paid.

Hope everyone lands on their feet. Seems to me going by tls anecdotes that there is an uptick in layoffs.

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby juzam_djinn » Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP, is there a reason you are only concentrating on MBB for consulting? Big 4 firms have consulting practices and are generally easier to get into and still pay well. There are other strategy firms as well that do similar work to MBB, and may like your IP background even more if they are in the tech field.


No reason at all. MBB just happen to be the kings of the field. I'll obviously consider the other firms as well. Who do you think would like an IP background and is in the tech field?


I would check out tech consulting and regulatory practices that hit the tech field across consulting firms. Big 4 firms have decent sized tech consulting groups (its not sexy, but it pays the bills and you can work on some decent projects with big name clients). Not sure of any tech specific firms, but there should be plenty of information out there on them.

I honestly wouldn't waste too much time trying to MBB, chances of that happening are so slim and case interviews take a lot of time to master. Unless other firms have similar interview processes, then worth a shot to try, but trying to get MBB is going to be extremely tough.


gonna have to disagree with this; don't count yourself out at these firms. they interview a LOT of people and if you do some decent prep you will have a shot. it definitely shouldn't be seen as a waste of time, and while the odds are low, this board tends to exaggerate how difficult it is to get a job at mbb

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Re: Fired from biglaw this week

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:06 pm

Pokemon wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I'm in the exact same situation as OP. Is it acceptable to maintain that I am still employed by the firm?



I think that is consensus, especially if still in firm website and paid.

Hope everyone lands on their feet. Seems to me going by tls anecdotes that there is an uptick in layoffs.


It sounds like it. I got the impression that I wasn't the only person at my firm that this happened to.



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