Firms are getting to grips with the idea that the economy will stay down for a while. The next step is structural change. Clients are thinking about how to lower legal costs and still meet their needs, and as we get into the fall, two things will happen: firms don’t want to be seen doing layoffs until they have to, but they’re also realizing the economy will be down for a while, maybe the next year and a half. This is all coming at the normal timing of annual associate reviews.
I think that layoffs are coming. It’s cruel to let someone go in the middle of a pandemic, and it’s really hard to fire someone over Zoom. Nobody wants the stigma of doing something like that.
— Hugh Simons, a law firm strategist who formerly served as chief operating officer at Ropes & Gray, commenting on the likelihood of law firm layoffs other serious austerity measures that could take place in the third quarter of 2020. Some firms have already conducted associate and staff layoffs (see here and here) as they assess the damage the pandemic has done to their bottom lines.
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.