Wednesday, February 18, 2009

BigLaw Depression

Hello folks.  I've been quiet because I really wasn't sure what I wanted to write about (not inspired). Then, Black Thursday came around with all sorts of layoffs and bad news and even HP's firm let some people go.  I didn't know how I wanted to address any of this..honestly, I still don't but figured you deserve a post.

What do I see?  Well, no associate is safe.  No summer associate is safe.  I am sorry this is so depressing, just reporting reality.  Partners are not immune either, especially non-equity partners.  We will continue to see layoffs, salary freezes, cuts etc.

Now, if you are a summer associate to be and you see your firm on re: layoffs, should you get in touch?   You can, and most HPs and staff expect it, but you might want to wait a few days to see if they touch base with you.  There is likely to be a message that is going to be relayed. Plus, when the layoffs, etc., first hit, there is a lot going on at the firm -- saying goodbye to colleagues, transitioning matters, dealing with other uncertainties and stress.  In other words, it will just add to the overall stress so you might want to wait.

 What if they mention about pushing start dates for new associates and you are an incoming (formerly fall) associate?  Should you get in touch. Again, they will be contacting you, but if you want, you can reach out to your contact at firm.  As indicated above, you may want to wait a few days, and speak calmly. Everyone is concerned and these things are not easy.  Have your questions prepared (e.g., will there be an extra stipend)?  

The bottom line here, gang, is uncertainty.  Do firms know whether they can definitely start anyone at the delayed start date or even have a summer program?  Whatever a firm's plans are today may change in the months ahead.  We are dealing with unprecedented times.  Firms aren't out to "get" you or purposely screw you over.  Management is basically trying to figure out things as things progress.  Projecting as well as they can, and being conservative to protect the overall firm and its employees.

I wish things were more cheerful for me to report.  I would encourage non-law firm gigs -- at least for the time being. And as GP said before, if you get extra time on your hands from start date delays, rescinded offers, etc., go ahead and try to find something law related.

And in all regards, keep networking, and don't burn any bridges.

Wow, have things changed since HP started blog back in the summer.  Hang in there.


Anonymous said...

"Then, Black Thursday came around with all sorts of layoffs and bad news and even HP's firm let some people go."

You realize this sentence alone, without pairing it up with any other posts, narrows down who you are to a handful of people?

I'm not a huge fan of the blog (at least yet) but there is some useful stuff and I certainly don't want an HP trying to distill some information anonymously to be outed, so maybe you want to delete that sentence or rephrase it and delete my post? Just a suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous - there are firms ALL over the country doing lay offs. Unless HP has previously mentioned a geographical region I don't think it narrows it down much at all. I am in a very small state and firms here are laying off left and right. Never mind "big law."

Hiring Partner said...

fear not, Anonymous 535, i do try to be careful and I didn't say mine was on black thursday, heck it doesn't even have to be one of the well publicized ones. Layoffs are all over -- geographically, by different firm sizes, public and non public. And if a firm says layoffs aren't happening or contemplated..they are lying!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see a post on practice groups and their respective exit options, whether some open more doors than others.

Anonymous said...

sentence sure sounds like layoffs at HPs firm were Thursday and I thought HP said he was an HP at a top 100 (or top 200?) firm.

Anyway, this sentence particularly intrigues me: And if a firm says layoffs aren't happening or contemplated..they are lying!

A few follow-ups to this (perhaps better to respond in a new post to respond? seems to me it would be a great read for all):

1. How can you be so sure ALL firms have to be contemplating layoffs of either staff and/or attorney? Are you saying even Wachtell and Williams and Connolly are considering layoffs? A good answer to this question might go a long way to explain the absolutes about how all law firms operate financially. I realize many firms over-leveraged as the partners lusted after obscene PPP and that many grew with reckless abandon or added offices throughout the world thereby foolishly creating massive amounts of overhead and fixed costs via real-estate, but not all firms did either of these.
2. Are there not practice areas that are doing quite well? (and if so, what are they?)

Anonymous said...

Hey HP, or anyone else for that matter, what's the prevailing thought out there right now as to how long this drought will last? Certainly no hiring seen for 09, right? Is it projected to last through 2010 as well? Beyond? I'm not looking for an exact science here, just a sense for what people think. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I second 12:54's question, immediately above.

Anonymous said...

HP is very quiet again ... I wonder if a repeat of Black Thursday is on the way.