Friday, March 27, 2009

The Current Law Firm Toll & Affects on Students

The ABA Journal online has an article here summarizing the toll of layoffs in firms during February and March, 2009. Martha Neil writes

It appears that the worst might possibly be over, both for the struggling global economy and the ever-increasing number of major law firms that have been laying off support staff, associates--and even partners--in record numbers.

Although law firm layoffs continue--Thursday's tally included some 234 people let go at four well-known firms--they have slowed.

Following news of more than 3,000 law firm layoffs made between Feb. 27 and March 12, this blistering pace of earlier in the month has clearly slackened, at least for now. Since then, although there have been well over 400 additional reported law firm layoffs, that puts the total tally, in a little less than one month, close to the 3,500 mark. If earlier March mayhem had continued, the total tally for the month presumably would have been around 6,000.

That compares to rough tallies of about 2,000 law firm layoffs in February and some 1,500 in January at major firms. (A Latham & Watkins announcement in late February that the firm would be axing 190 associates and 250 staff has been counted in the March 12 total, skewing the March numbers a bit. However, some firms have confirmed layoffs but declined to give figures and others may have made "stealth" layoffs, neither of which are tallied. Hence, the overall figure for March, so far, is probably about right.)
The full article includes lots more details and hyperlinks within the quoted section I offer here, so it's worth a visit. A separate ABA article offers the hopeful news that 300 attorneys surveyed thought the layoffs are mostly over. See here. I don't know... I guess you got to take hope where you can get it.

This article finds BigLaw firms have cut their summer jobs for students by 50%, but notes grimly that the figure fails to account for the firms that have simply done away with summer associate programs entirely. By following a few links, the reader can come to The Shark blog, which thoughtfully, if gloomily, compiles the figures (I think, here) from National Association of Law Placement (NALP) into a table, here, so it's easy to see how many big firms have cut their summer associate programs.

Time to start networking!

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