Employment lawyers across the San Francisco Bay Area say their employment work surged in Q4 2008, and those interviewed by The Recorder said they expect more of the same this year.
Billings at Littler Mendelson’s 24-lawyer San Jose office were up 20% in November and 23% in December over the same months in 2007.
Nixon Peabody’s national employment practice head, Jeffrey Tanenbaum, said the billings coming in as a direct result of the downturn are significant, but are hard to quantify, “because what we’re also seeing is a decrease in some of the discretionary work that companies engage in in good times,” such as training sessions and revising of employee handbooks.
Roberta Hayashi of Berliner Cohen’s employment group saw a “very quick upsurge in advice and counsel work on layoffs,” she said. Hayashi is now in discussions with partners at the 54-lawyer firm about hiring help
G. Daniel Newland, co-chair of Seyfarth Shaw’s labor and employment group in San Francisco, said that compared with the last downturn, clients are seeking advice on more than trimming the fat. Newland is representing a stock brokerage where the workers on the chopping block are quality employees or “keepers” that have been well regarded and even may have been promoted in the last 12 to 30 months. But the company can’t afford them anymore.