Historically, in weaker economies, firms have had cover to counsel out of the firm people who have been underperforming relative to expectations. Usually the worst offenders go first, with firms working their way up from the bottom, starting with those who have been weak performers over a number of years.
Layoffs mean, to me, mass firings of people. I think here it is more a list of people and offices and what they contribute to the firm. The people at the bottom of that list are ones that have been weak performers for years. Targeted firings of weak performers are more likely.
— Kent Zimmermann, a legal industry consultant at Zeughauser Group, in comments given to the American Lawyer on what we can expect to see happen when it comes to personnel as a result of the slowdown in demand for legal services, especially in M&A. On that note, an anonymous global M&A practice head told Am Law, “We are not interested in firing people,” while at the same time saying that overall performance was being looked at closely, including office attendance and hours expectations.
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.