Sometimes It’s Better To Be Fired Instead Of Stealth Laid Off

This website has previously discussed the phenomenon of “stealth layoffs” within the legal community.  For those of you who do not follow Above the Law as closely as I have for the past decade, a stealth layoff is when a firm wants to get rid of an attorney, but they do not fire them in…

Sometimes It’s Better To Be Fired Instead Of Stealth Laid Off

This website has previously discussed the phenomenon of “stealth layoffs” within the legal community.  For those of you who do not follow Above the Law as closely as I have for the past decade, a stealth layoff is when a firm wants to get rid of an attorney, but they do not fire them in the traditional sense.  Rather, they tell the attorney that their days are numbered and then give the attorney some time (usually several months) to find a new job.  The firm typically provides the attorney ample leeway to go to job interviews, and supervisors usually do not tell prospective employers about the nature of the attorney’s departure.
Sometimes, attorneys subject to stealth layoffs do not find jobs so quickly and need to be terminated in the traditional way.  However, many times attorneys are able to secure employment without being fired, and both parties gain something from the arrangement.  The attorney gets to secure other employment and not blemish their career with the embarrassment and negativity associated with being terminated.  The firm also gets to maintain its reputation, and usually does not need to provide severance payments to the departing attorney.  However, there are certain situations in which it is actually better to get fired than to be stealth laid off from a firm.
Believe it or not, there are sometimes many financial benefits to being fired in the traditional sense at some firms.  Most Biglaw shops pay sizable amounts in severance to departing attorneys, in part to help attorneys during their career transition, and mostly to decrease their legal exposure in case an attorney wants to sue the firm.  Although the amount of severance varies from firm to firm, many Biglaw shops typically provide three to six months of salary as severance, and this can be a substantial amount of money.
If attorneys are able to find a job shortly after being laid off from a shop that offers this type of severance, they can devote their severance to purposes other than merely paying for living expenses.  This is especially true if you work in
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