Revisiting the Candidates for Impending Layoffs

by lawshucks on August 15, 2009

lawshucks-blindvenn-smallWe’ve had some feedback that our assumptions eliminated some possible firms from the blind item about which firm was using the Five O’Clock Club for an imminent layoff.

Based on our reading of the Washington Post article, we ran a report off the Layoff Tracker of all firms that had had exactly two rounds of layoffs of lawyers in calendar 2009.

We’ve run another custom report that expands the criteria a bit: all firms that have had two rounds of layoffs (attorneys and/or staff) in the past twelve months. We also eliminate a few based on other factors.

After the jump, the revised pool (and it includes one of the most-speculated firms). More importantly, another Venn diagram!

Remember, this is what we had to work with:

“Five O’Clock Club, this is Kim,” she says. “How are you this morning?”

She rocks in her chair as she listens and scribbles notes: A law firm in Manhattan. Downsizing. Their third one this year. Twelve employees. Probably in August. More to come in October and November.

First, the entire list of firms that have had exactly two rounds of layoffs reported in the past twelve months:

  • Akin Gump
  • Bingham
  • Blank Rome
  • Buchanan Ingersoll
  • Day Pitney
  • Dewey & LeBoeuf
  • Eckert Seamans
  • Edwards Angell
  • Fish & Richardson
  • Freshfields
  • Howrey
  • Jenner & Block
  • Katten Muchin
  • Kirkland & Ellis
  • Manatt Phelps
  • McKee Nelson
  • Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • Orrick
  • Paul Hastings
  • Proskauer
  • Quinn Emanuel
  • Reed Smith
  • Ropes & Gray
  • Schulte Roth & Zabel
  • Shearman & Sterling
  • Simmons
  • Skadden
  • Weil Gotshal
  • White & Case
  • Wildman Harrold

Of the firms that meet our revised criteria, we can eliminate Dewey & LeBoeuf, Morgan Lewis, Schulte, and White & Case. Each of those firms has contacted us and/or Above the Law to deny being the firm in question.

That “Manhattan law firm” comment makes things tricky.

Eckert Seamans, whose only NY office is in White Plains, doesn’t even have a Manhattan presence, so that can be eliminated out of hand. Simmons is a UK firm with no US office at all.

So of the firms left, only the following could really be considered “Manhattan” firms:

  • Akin Gump (104 total in February, 65 staff in January)
  • Proskauer (23 lawyers in March, 60 total in December)
  • Shearman & Sterling (78 staff in March – but 18 of those were in London)
  • Skadden (two rounds of staff-lawyer layoffs in January (30) and March (50))
  • Weil Gotshal (27 total when it closed its Austin office in June, and 79 staff in May)

Could we be getting closer?

Proskauer, Skadden, Weil, and White & Case all appear on the Five O’Clock Club’s (now removed) list of law-firm clients. The Club also seems to specialize in staff layoffs, so factor that into your speculation. Of course, being on the list doesn’t mean that the Club’s services were used recently; it means that the firms were astonishingly stupid in not prohibiting their names from being used in lists exactly like this.

And three separate criteria… what could be more useful than a Venn diagram?

lawshucks-blindvenn-small

Less likely are the following, which at least have Manhattan presences (and their actual or notional headquarters)

  • Bingham (Boston)
  • Blank Rome (Philadelphia)
  • Buchanan Ingersoll (Pittsburgh)
  • Day Pitney (Hartford, CT / Florham Park, NJ)
  • Edwards Angell (Boston)
  • Fish & Richardson (Boston)
  • Freshfields (London)
  • Howrey (Washington, DC)
  • Jenner & Block (Chicago)
  • Katten Muchin (Chicago)
  • Kirkland & Ellis (Chicago)
  • Manatt Phelps (Los Angeles)
  • McKee Nelson (now part of Bingham)
  • Orrick (San Francisco)
  • Paul Hastings (Los Angeles)
  • Quinn Emanuel (Los Angeles)
  • Reed Smith (Pittsburgh)
  • Ropes & Gray (Boston)
  • Wildman Harrold (Chicago)

So the Top 3 based on likelihood, in our estimation are:

  1. Proskauer
  2. Skadden
  3. Akin Gump

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments.

  • Guest

    Point of fact, Eckert Seamans has not had two rounds of layoffs. It has not laid off ANY of its regular attorneys (those listed on its website). It did provide the legally required notice to PA of it intent to layoff up to 119 temporary/contract lawyers. Then in July it actually laid off less than that amount. The firm has grown by more than 10% since the economic downturn began in earnest in October, 2008.

    • http://lawshucks.com lawshucks

      Please:

      1- read the methodology. We’re very clear that we count layoffs of both staff and attorneys. In fact, we include layoffs of staff/temporary/contract lawyers as staff layoffs, not as attorney layoffs. Both rounds of layoffs at Eckert Seamans are listed as staff only. According to the Layoff Tracker, we categorize Eckert Seamans as having laid off 90 staff in July and 119 in May.

      2- Do a little self-evaluation as to why you assume that only lawyers count.

      Point of fact, Eckert Seamans has had two rounds of layoffs totaling 209 PEOPLE.

      Thanks for reading!

      • Guest

        Check your facts. I am not assuming that only lawyers count. In May Eckert Seamans provided its 60-days notice of its intent to layoff 119 contract lawyers as required by law. In July it actually laid off 90 instead of 119. One round, not two. No other layoffs of lawyers or staff have occurred.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/lawshucks lawshucks

          OK, now that's a fair point, but it certainly wasn't clear from the way you wrote it the first time. We're taking the May layoff off the tracker.

  • Guest

    Point of fact, Eckert Seamans has not had two rounds of layoffs. It has not laid off ANY of its regular attorneys (those listed on its website). It did provide the legally required notice to PA of it intent to layoff up to 119 temporary/contract lawyers. Then in July it actually laid off less than that amount. The firm has grown by more than 10% since the economic downturn began in earnest in October, 2008.

    • http://lawshucks.com lawshucks

      Please:

      1- read the methodology. We’re very clear that we count layoffs of both staff and attorneys. In fact, we include layoffs of staff/temporary/contract lawyers as staff layoffs, not as attorney layoffs. Both rounds of layoffs at Eckert Seamans are listed as staff only. According to the Layoff Tracker, we categorize Eckert Seamans as having laid off 90 staff in July and 119 in May.

      2- Do a little self-evaluation as to why you assume that only lawyers count.

      Point of fact, Eckert Seamans has had two rounds of layoffs totaling 209 PEOPLE.

      Thanks for reading!

      • Guest

        Check your facts. I am not assuming that only lawyers count. In May Eckert Seamans provided its 60-days notice of its intent to layoff 119 contract lawyers as required by law. In July it actually laid off 90 instead of 119. One round, not two. No other layoffs of lawyers or staff have occurred.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/lawshucks lawshucks

          OK, now that's a fair point, but it certainly wasn't clear from the way you wrote it the first time. We're taking the May layoff off the tracker.

  • cd in DC

    I’m betting it’s Proskauer, as one of their partners who specializes in employment law left this year and i don’t think a DC paper like the Post would think of a firm like Akin Gump as New York, as they’re based here.

  • cd in DC

    I’m betting it’s Proskauer, as one of their partners who specializes in employment law left this year and i don’t think a DC paper like the Post would think of a firm like Akin Gump as New York, as they’re based here.

  • Anders

    Query: what happened to Mayer Brown? It was the favorite last week, then vanished from the list.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/lawshucks lawshucks

      They've had three rounds in the past twelve months – when we went to that instead of calendar year, we picked up a layoff of 33 lawyers in November. They're a pretty good contender, though. One of the surprisingly good anecdotal indicators we have is the logs of the search terms that bring people to the site. Mayer Brown is trending upwards.

      Of course, tips are better, so send them in!

  • Anders

    Query: what happened to Mayer Brown? It was the favorite last week, then vanished from the list.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/lawshucks lawshucks

      They've had three rounds in the past twelve months – when we went to that instead of calendar year, we picked up a layoff of 33 lawyers in November. They're a pretty good contender, though. One of the surprisingly good anecdotal indicators we have is the logs of the search terms that bring people to the site. Mayer Brown is trending upwards.

      Of course, tips are better, so send them in!

  • Guest

    The analysis is flawed for at least two reasons. First, we do not know if the original overheard conversation's reference to two prior rounds of layoffs was limited to attorneys or included staff. HR people in the legal field tend to view those two as entirely different.

    Second, the lawshucks list of number of rounds of layoffs is materially wrong with regard to a number of firms. National firms tend to have announced layoffs that include most of their offices at one time. However, the reporting of those layoffs in various offices across the country may be behind by weeks. What might appear as multiple rounds, is really just one.

    In addition, the person on the other end of the phone call was presumably a law firm representative. A law firm might have told people they were being laid off over a period of weeks as the hatchet man maid his way across the country. However, in the minds of that law firm rep on the other end of the phone call, it was one round.

  • Guest

    The analysis is flawed for at least two reasons. First, we do not know if the original overheard conversation's reference to two prior rounds of layoffs was limited to attorneys or included staff. HR people in the legal field tend to view those two as entirely different.

    Second, the lawshucks list of number of rounds of layoffs is materially wrong with regard to a number of firms. National firms tend to have announced layoffs that include most of their offices at one time. However, the reporting of those layoffs in various offices across the country may be behind by weeks. What might appear as multiple rounds, is really just one.

    In addition, the person on the other end of the phone call was presumably a law firm representative. A law firm might have told people they were being laid off over a period of weeks as the hatchet man maid his way across the country. However, in the minds of that law firm rep on the other end of the phone call, it was one round.

  • twoJ

    2nd Proskauer, with the news of them backing out of a tentaive lease agreemenet for new office space reported by Bloomberg via ATL

  • twoJ

    2nd Proskauer, with the news of them backing out of a tentaive lease agreemenet for new office space reported by Bloomberg via ATL

  • guest

    what about arent fox?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/lawshucks lawshucks

      What about them? One round in March, not based in NY…

  • guest

    what about arent fox?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/lawshucks lawshucks

      What about them? One round in March, not based in NY…

  • Guest

    What about DLA? The US operation (which is totally separate from the rest of the firm) has had two rounds (February and July), it has a large NYC office and was on the Five O'Clock Club client list.

    • Guest

      And DLA's second largest office in the US and 3rd largest in the world is the NY office so I would say that could qualify them as the "NY firm" discussed in the original article…

  • Guest

    What about DLA? The US operation (which is totally separate from the rest of the firm) has had two rounds (February and July), it has a large NYC office and was on the Five O'Clock Club client list.

    • Guest

      And DLA's second largest office in the US and 3rd largest in the world is the NY office so I would say that could qualify them as the "NY firm" discussed in the original article…

  • M Lewis

    Weil Gotshal has done more than 2 rounds of layoffs, but that doesn’t mean that they should be eliminated from the speculation of this impending layoff. The 5 O’Clock Club person may not even be aware of the January 9th layoff of 20 staffers plus all the stealth layoffs of attorneys (perhaps 40 attorneys in January).

  • M Lewis

    Weil Gotshal has done more than 2 rounds of layoffs, but that doesn’t mean that they should be eliminated from the speculation of this impending layoff. The 5 O’Clock Club person may not even be aware of the January 9th layoff of 20 staffers plus all the stealth layoffs of attorneys (perhaps 40 attorneys in January).

  • TheShadowKnows

    It has taken a bit longer than anticipated but layoffs are again pending at Akin Gump for the week of September 21st this is a known fact. My guess is September 25th will be the day since that seems to be the day they like to drop the hatchette.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/lawshucks lawshucks

      OK, let's see if you're right.

  • TheShadowKnows

    It has taken a bit longer than anticipated but layoffs are again pending at Akin Gump for the week of September 21st this is a known fact. My guess is September 25th will be the day since that seems to be the day they like to drop the hatchette.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/lawshucks lawshucks

      OK, let's see if you're right.

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