Now What? Does Anyone Know Anything?

ATL has been full of reports about Biglaw firms cutting draws, salaries, and furloughs. There have also been and will continue to be layoffs, whether they’re called “stealth layoffs” or some other furtive term. A layoff is a layoff is a layoff; there is no other way to put lipstick on this pig. I was…

Now What? Does Anyone Know Anything?

ATL has been full of reports about Biglaw firms cutting draws, salaries, and furloughs. There have also been and will continue to be layoffs, whether they’re called “stealth layoffs” or some other furtive term. A layoff is a layoff is a layoff; there is no other way to put lipstick on this pig.
I was laid off some years back. It’s never a pleasant experience, and even now, years later, I wonder what was the true story behind my departure. Take it from me, you are in shock because you can’t figure out what happened. Did you not bill enough hours? Did your client development efforts suck? Did you piss off a major client? Were you an employee that took up a lot of HR-related time with your various issues? Was this an opportune time to get rid of an employee who had performance-related issues that no one really wanted to confront? Were you a conduit or a lawyer? Some managers only want conduits, micromanaging lawyers to the nth degree. Order takers and fact finders, but not lawyers.
Rahm Emanuel, who was President Barack Obama’s first chief of staff and, later, mayor of Chicago famously said, “[N]ever let a serious crisis go to waste.”  That crisis gives you an opportunity to do things you didn’t think that you could do before.
As an employer’s in-house employment lawyer, I always felt it was better for both the employer and the employee if separation, e.g. layoffs, could be done in a gracious, graceful, and dignified manner, instead of the “you’re outta here” that some employers seem to prefer. One Biglaw firm thinks my way is the right way to treat departing employees. Right now, the layoffs are support staff onl,y but with the world in such flux, I think that at some time, not just Ropes & Gray but other Biglaw firms will be forced to go the layoff route for lawyers. Hopefully, other firms will adopt that model and provide severance to attorneys and continuation of benefits for some prescribed period. That concern for your colleagues goes a long way and helps to cushion
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