Atrium Layoffs: Let’s Talk About What Matters

“You know when we knew a round of layoffs was? It was when they started locking the Coke in the meeting room cabinets. It was a big omen,” I was once told by a paralegal who worked at a prominent Silicon Valley law firm during the dotcom and dotbust. As she was telling me the…

Atrium Layoffs: Let’s Talk About What Matters

“You know when we knew a round of layoffs was? It was when they started locking the Coke in the meeting room cabinets. It was a big omen,” I was once told by a paralegal who worked at a prominent Silicon Valley law firm during the dotcom and dotbust.
As she was telling me the details of what happened, I couldn’t help but think of 2009 and 2010. By then, I was in my third year of working in Biglaw. For almost two years, the gossip in my and neighboring law firms revolved around sudden, increasingly frequent departures of numerous legal professionals and reports of cost-cutting measures, such as discontinuation of dinner allowances.
And always in the mix was a lot of fear and anxiety. What if I’m next?, we all thought as we helplessly watched the numbers in our law class dwindle. Surely, if I work extra hard, then I would be spared. This thinking made sense to recent law graduates, who had found success in their own lives by working harder than everyone around them for their entire education and professional careers.
All of this became real to me when the Atrium layoffs were announced. There were a lot of discussions. Many conversations focused on who broke the news first and who saw it coming. There were some nods to the future of the legal field and agreement that this may happen again as legal tech comes to play a more prominent role.
Yet, layoffs are not a blood sport to be enjoyed by spectators. We failed to discuss things that really matter.
Layoffs involve people with families, dreams, and ambitions. There is a distinct lack of humanity when we report that somewhere between 10 and 50 professionals ha
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