It all started with news of hiring freezes and waves of stealth layoffs at some of the most successful Biglaw firms before stories of outright layoffs began to emerge, one after the other after the other. What does this mean for associates in the first quarter of 2023?
It’s officially layoff season.
Top Am Law firms are looking to “rightsize” their firms and control attorney headcount and costs during a time of sluggish demand for legal services, but they’d like to avoid the bad publicity that goes hand in hand with conducting layoffs en masse. After all, no Biglaw firm wants their brand name to become a layoff-related verb (this happened to Latham when the firm laid off 440 people in February 2009). What’s a financially struggling firm to do?
Biglaw firms must now decide whether they’ll attempt to save face by offering complete transparency when announcing open layoffs or conduct stealth layoffs in secrecy. It can be a difficult decision for law firm leadership to make.
On one hand, law firms that have recently announced large-scale layoffs have been lauded for their honesty, putting a somewhat positive PR spin on what would otherwise be terrible news. On the other hand, conducting stealth layoffs means never having to say you’re sorry — to employees or the press.
That being said, help us help you. Now that layoffs are trending among top Biglaw firms, we expect there may be many more to come. Please keep Above the Law in mind when attorneys are suddenly let go and the firm insists there’ve been no layoffs. Please report outright layoffs to Above the Law as soon as possible so we can keep tabs on the Am Law 200 and beyond.
If your firm or organization is reducing the ranks of its lawyers or staff, whether through open layoffs, stealth layoffs, or voluntary buyouts, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Our vast network of tipsters is part of what makes Above the Law thrive. You can email us or text us (646-820-8477).
If you’d like to sign up for ATL’s Layoff Alerts, please scroll down and enter your email address in the box below this post. If you previously signed up for the layoff alerts, you don’t need to do anything. You’ll receive an email notification within minutes of each layoff announcement that we publish.
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.