With all of the actual layoffs that are occurring in the BigLaw world, it is pretty easy for sites like Above the Law and Law Shucks to have great fodder on how scary things are for BigLaw associates and staff. Don’t get me wrong, I monitor both of these sites from time to time, and find that they identify a lot of issues out there that many of the legal publications wouldn’t touch. However, I spotted a story last week that made me wonder if there might be a little more “hype” than “fact.” The story called “Nationwide (Stealth) Layoff Watch: Nixon Peabody” was in Above the Law last Friday – and mentioned in Law Shuck’s “This Week in Lawyoffs – 10/9/09“. Although I don’t doubt that ATL was given information on the details surrounding layoffs, I thought I’d check something first before taking this information at face value.
Back in February, when the big round of layoffs were taking place, I took it upon myself to take a snapshot of most of the AmLaw 100 rosters via their websites. Nixon Peabody, of course, was one of these. So, I thought I’d dust off that list and compare it to today’s roster of employees. What I found was pretty interesting, but didn’t seem to be as dire as I’ve been reading in ATL or Law Shucks. I identified who was new to the roster, and who was no longer on the roster. This is not a scientific comparison, so please take into account that there could be a number of reasons for the “new” and “missing” roster members, such as name changes from marriage or divorce, and things like partners that have moved to different firms rather than being laid off. So, don’t take this as a perfect list…. With that being said, here’s what I found:
Associates 26 New Associates vs. 32 Not on Roster
Others (Counsel, Staff Atty, Advisors, etc) 6 New Others vs. 12 Not on Roster
Paralegals 12 New Paralegals vs. 6 Not on Roster
So, there does seem to be a net loss of 19 attorneys since the February snapshot. However, there has been an increase of 6 paralegals, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t been hearing anything about hiring at BigLaw firms. What I’m seeing from these raw numbers is that there is still movement within the firms (at least this single one I unscientifically surveyed), but I’d be cautious to buy too much into the hype of secret layoffs without digging a little deeper into the facts surrounding the comings and goings of these attorneys. Below are the lists I’ve worked from. Take a look and see if you find that the facts might be more interesting than the hype.