Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Debts of the Spenders: 10k Lawyers Laid Off in the US in 2009 (So Far)

I can already hear the lawyer jokes. (They're not funny if you're an attorney). The good news is that attorneys continue to retain strong numbers in small practice areas (such as estate planning, personal injury, and immigration). Not so much in corporate lit.

For those non-legal types wondering what the numbers were, first year associates at big firms were getting offers of $165k/year STARTING up until last summer. Of course, they also had to bill 2500 hours/year. That trend is certainly coming to an end. More importantly, the billable hour is under threat as firms reconsider the wisdom of alienating their clients. The era of charging .20/paper clips to expenses is definitely over.

2009’s Toll: More Than 10,000 Law Firm Layoffs and Lower Pay Trend

Posted May 28, 2009, 10:43 am CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

The pace of law firm layoffs may be slowing, but the numbers continue to grow, hitting more than 10,000 this month for the year of 2009 alone.

At the end of last week, 3,881 lawyers and 6,282 staffers had been laid off since the beginning of the year by major U.S. law firms, the blog Law Shucks reported.

While layoffs are slowing, another trend appears to be gaining steam. Several law firms are cutting associate pay, including Reed Smith, DLA Piper, Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, Nixon Peabody and Seyfarth Shaw.

Lower pay for lawyers could be a lasting effect of the recession, according to recruiter Jerome Kowalski of Kowalski & Associates. "These meganumbers in terms of compensation are just going to disappear," he told the Legal Intelligencer last week.
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