Guest Post Written by: Nabeal Twereet
We caught up with a former ALM (American Lawyer Media) department manager who revealed that two more rounds of layoffs have occurred since June 2013.
According to the source we spoke with, the downsizing events caused 25-30 people to lose their jobs, and this last round is rumored to include Vice President of National Advertising Michael Medwig. Downsizing over the last 18 months has affected individuals in most if not all of ALM’s nine local offices: Hartford, Connecticut; Newark, New Jersey; Manhattan, New York; Philadelphia; Atlanta; Miami; Dallas; San Francisco; and Washington, D.C.
ALM is a global leader in specialized legal and business news and information. They are based in New York City and have sixteen offices worldwide. ALM’s reporting is distributed through local newspapers and websites and their award-winning media properties include The New York Law Journal, The National Law Journal, Corporate Counsel, The American Lawyer, and Law.com. The oldest newspaper in the chain is the Legal Intelligencer, which dates back to 1843.
The former department manager explained what has transpired within the company since we last discussed layoffs seven months ago. His insight and prediction of more downsizing has been reflected in other articles.
How do you feel ALM is doing as a company overall?
From what I heard, less than 20 percent of their legal media properties are achieving budget. They have to move quickly to make an acquisition offer or they will still be in the same position.
What has happened since we last spoke in June 2013?
ALM has drastically reduced their numbers in nine offices. Many local newspapers no longer have their own editor-in-chief or publisher and they are still responsible for the business or news operations of two or three papers. Their layoffs have diminished the quality of their papers. ALM’s last corporate press release, which is dated January 15, 2013, talks about the relaunching of 18 websites, but they continue to downsize.
Do you think the downsizing will continue?
It will continue.
Can anything prevent the downsizing?
Yes. They are trying to make themselves profitable so they can be purchased.
Will more executive staff members be let go?
I don’t know. I would assume they are all on shaky ground. Anything is possible.
Two years ago, I talked to a former ALM publisher, who told me, ‘Every time I get called to a meeting at corporate in New York, I don’t know if I will be let go.’
If you were still at ALM, what would you do to prevent these layoffs?
Let me put it this way, if I was still working for ALM, I would keep my resume up to date and I would be networking. As a company ALM should be concentrating on expanding their Continued Legal Education business and all of their other events/conference offerings.
What impact does the decrease in law school enrollment, if any, have on ALM?
It has a profound impact. A lot of their advertising revenue decreases as enrollment decreases. The law schools place less paid advertising and sponsor less events as their enrollment decreases.
How do you feel about these layoffs?
So many people have been let go that are 55 or 60 years old and they have spent their whole careers in traditional print publishing. It’s going to be hard for them to find other jobs at that age. They receive one week of severance pay for each year they have worked at ALM, and that seems below industry standards. The company should do a better job of standing by their people when they lose their jobs. Some of these positions may be filled again eventually by younger workers who have less experience. This loss of institutional memory will continue to hurt the company and its relationships with its readers and clients.