The Month in Layoffs – January 10

by lawshucks on February 2, 2010

January was an odd month. Every week, there was one firm laying people off. Some weeks it was lawyers, some it was staff.

It was just enough to keep everyone on edge.

Which is probably what the firms wanted, as they were focused more on spinning the year-end numbers for inclusion in the AmLaw rankings.

This time last year, it was pretty clear that a number of firms just waited to get through the holidays then opened the floodgates.

The total for January this year was only about 10% of last year’s.

Details after the jump.

Only 136 people were laid off in January 2010 (46 lawyers / 90 staff). That’s a far cry from a year ago, when 1,540 people were let go (694 / 846).

But even that 136 was almost twice as many as were laid off in December – which way will the trend go?

It’s been a while since we’ve put out the entire chart going back to January 2008, so here it is:

Similarly, the average layoff size was almost double in January compared to February.

That, too, is far short of the overall average size of 52.17 people per layoff (275 layoffs affecting 14,347 people).

Next month will be interesting. Law firms, in a practice that must make management gurus sick, typically announce bonuses in December, pay them in December or January, then do reviews in January and February. So we’re heading into the height of stealth-layoff season. We’ll be particularly vigilant about not letting firms change their standards, so help us out with tips.

Details of the month’s layoffs can be found in the “This Week in Layoffs” series.

The January 2010 weekly recaps:

This month’s layoffs (attorneys/staff):

* This layoff was reported by one of our own tipsters, and we subsequently got confirmation from the firm’s PR agency. Marks & Clerk, about whom we’ve previously broken a round of redundancies, has laid off one more fee-earner in the Birmingham Manchester office as a result of consolidation of the Liverpool office.

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