Springtime is upon us, and Biglaw firms seem to be doing their fair share of spring cleaning — i.e., conducting “performance reviews” that result in out-of-work associates. If that sounds like these firms are performing stealth layoffs, you may be right on the money based on past precedent.
One of the latest firms to make cuts is Ropes & Gray, which recently rose two places to No. 10 in the Am Law 100 by bringing in $2.718 billion gross revenue in 2022. (On the other hand, thanks to its successful recruitment strategies, the firm’s lawyer head count increased by 8.7%, which in turn caused its revenue per lawyer to drop by 6.5%.)
According to numerous message boards, Ropes recently made some attempts to slim down its associate ranks. The American Lawyer has the details:
[T]he firm said on Wednesday that any cuts result from a performance evaluation. The firm’s statement follows a Big Law trend this year of firms quietly making cuts through the review process.
“The quarterly performance management process is a part of the normal course [of] our business operations. We continue to use our same merits-based evaluation process,” the firm said in a statement provided by a spokesperson.
But how can you tell the difference between a stealth layoff and a genuine review-based termination these days? Industry experts say the line has become “increasingly blurry” in recent weeks. “All firms are engaged in a sort of rightsizing,” a consultant familiar with the New York market told Am Law. “Everyone is engaging in some process of looking at head count and so [using] these aggressive reviews.”
Best of luck to those who are being let go from Ropes & Gray.
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).
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In Response to Layoff Chatter, Ropes & Gray Cites ‘Merits-Based Evaluation Process’ [American Lawyer]
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.
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