Staff Layoffs are a Growing Trend
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What can a law firms do to prepare for a possible double dip recession?

Well, one obvious answer would be: firms can ”right-size” themselves, by making sure that they are as lean and as mean as they can possibly be. And, luckily, this seems to be what has been happening the past few months.


Even though we haven’t seen much in terms of lawyer layoffs, staff layoffs are a different story. Actually, on the staff side of the layoffs, there seems to be more of a trend of firms reducing their permanent staff in favor of outsourcing.

Since August, O’Melveny & Meyers have laid off 75 positions, and Paul Hastings have laid off 45 positions. Both of these are a result of domestic outsourcing to outside service providers. Other companies have come forward with their number of positions they plan to lay off.

Now let’s start with the Goodwin Procter news, which was announced at the beginning of this month via and internal memo:

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”This fall, Goodwin made the decision to outsource it’s Record Management and Accounts Payable functions to William Lea, a vendor who has provided administrative support services to the firm in other areas for a number of years. We shared this news with the Goodwin community in an internal memo on Oct. 13, following discussions with the employees in these groups.
-This decision affected 11 employees in the Records Management area, and 7 employees in Accounts Payable. Together, these individuals represent slightly less than 3% of Goodwin’s administrative staff.
-As of today, we expect that 6 of the 11 Records Management employees will accept positions with Williams Lea and continue to work onsite at Goodwin offices in their former functions. As mentioned below, affected individuals who do not transition to Williams Lea have been encouraged to apply for other available open positions at the firm. Individuals leaving the firm will receive severance packages, outplacement assistance and other job search support.
-We believe that this decision will provide multiple long term benefits to the firm and it’s clients and vendors, including increased efficiency and productivity; access to improved systems and technology; enhanced service for internal and external clients; and cost savings.”

While this news must be very difficult on these affected individuals, the news is just not shocking, given the apparent trend in this years direction. And it’s also worth mentioning that this seems like a rather discrete development.

Fulbright and Jaworski tells us:

”More staff layoffs have hit Fulbright and Jaworski. This time it’s receptionists and a billing clerk. Out of our 17 current receptionists, F&J are getting rid of 12 of them. The reason is ”remodeling” which will result in no longer having a receptionist stationed on each floor. Many of the receptionist being laid off have been with the firm over 30 years”.

Those poor people, such a tough economy for workers.


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