Tipster: More Layoffs on Horizon at Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt [Update 3]
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In June we reported that Portland, Oregon’s Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt would cut associate salaries and lay off support staff.

Now a JDJournal tipster informs us that more layoffs are coming in August, and the new round will likely include associates.

The tipster says (edited for length and clarity):


Hopefully, Schwabe will handle this round of layoffs better than the June 15 layoffs of nearly 10% of its secretarial and professional staff, in which management attempted such a stealthy layoff that they did not even bother to tell the attorneys that their secretaries would be eliminated – many attorneys came back from a CLE event, a meeting, or a vacation and discovered their secretaries were simply gone.

It would be pretty interesting if management attempted to conduct any associate layoffs in this manner, and just left it up to the supervising partners to figure out who was still around to work on their cases.

Much of the staff affected by the June 15th layoff has been seriously questioning the timing of it – while Schwabe is still insisting that these staff members were cut due to the current state of the economy, Schwabe went on to hire two full-time secretaries within a week of cutting nearly 10% of its secretarial staff… None of the laid-off secretarial staff were asked to return to fill either one of these positions.

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…it is worth mentioning that nearly all of the secretarial staff laid off on June 15th had raised some complaint to their supervisor, in the seven months preceding the layoffs, leaving most of the secretarial staff who lost their jobs on June 15th to reach the conclusion that this supervisor simply used the layoffs as a convenient way to clean house for those staff members who they apparently perceived as troublemakers.

If you know anything about layoffs at Schwabe, please — send us a confidential tip! And thanks to all our tipsters!

Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt is a law firm with over 160 attorneys in seven cities. The firm currently has offices in Portland, Bend and Salem, Oregon; Seattle, Vancouver and Stevenson, Washington; and Washington, DC. It is the seventh largest law firm in the Pacific Northwest, and the second largest in Oregon.


Another tipster has a lot to say. Edited for length and clarity:

This supervisor did use the layoffs as an excuse to clean house of those they didn’t like…  They breach confidentiality between the secretaries and staff behind closed doors, and starts rumors just to get someone to give up information.

There has been no support to the secretarial staff since the layoffs took place, and the associates and summers are doing yet another rafting trip to the Deschutes this weekend, like last weekend wasn’t enough!

The staff get to go pull weeds out of Washington Park and have a picnic at the Zoo afterwards as their reward this summer. I bet we will see an article about how great of community services the firm provides after the staff go sweat all day pulling the weeds at their summer event, which used to take place on the Portland Spirit. I guess those days are over…

…the morale at Schwabe is null/void. It is beyond low if that is possible – non-existent.


Another tipster writes in (edited for length and clarity):

…one of the managing partners went before the entire firm to announce that every level of Schwabe would be making sacrifices in these difficult times; staff suffered layoffs, associates received pay cuts, and the partners would not be receiving their “holdbacks.” (The partners have a percentage of their salary held back each month. and then receive those funds in June and December pending good receivables).

Within two weeks after that announcement, the partners did in fact receive their holdbacks. Also, note that mid-level management was not mentioned with regard to any sort of sacrifice — no layoffs, no pay cuts.

There have been complaints brought to upper management for years with regard to this supervisor’s inability to maintain confidentiality. It has been a wonder to staff how they maintain their position as a mid-level manager, and further why Schwabe’s upper management and board would allow them to make the decision with regard to which individuals would be laid off.


Disturbing reports are emerging from several staff members at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt that this supervisor allegedly commented to them, “Now that so many staff have been eliminated, there will be bigger bonuses for all of us at the end of the year.” In light of the recent reports that the partners did, in fact, receive their holdbacks, it is becoming increasingly clear that the June staff lay-offs, the attorney pay cuts, and the future lay-offs planned for August are not due to the current financial forecast.

Rather, according to this supervisor – a member of management, who would be privy to knowing such things – it was all so that there would be bigger bonuses for all employees at year’s end.

In fact, if Schwabe were legitimately concerned about remaining economically viable, they would terminate this supervisor because they are a huge liability – upper management already has substantiated evidence that they have violated employees’ protected health information under the HIPAA Regulations, and it is just a matter of time before one of these employees obtains a judgment against Schwabe big enough to shut the whole place down.



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