This site, and this page and its sub-pages in particular, tracks law firm layoffs, particularly since the beginning of the most-recent downturn in January, 2008.
Major law firms are turning out to be just as susceptible to general economic conditions as every other industry. Historically, layoffs by top-tier firms were kept quiet and were done on a one-off basis. We’re trying to shed a little light on the situation.
As of December 11, 2011, over 15,435 people have been laid off by major law firms (5,872 lawyers / 9,563 staff) since January 1, 2008.
More than 12,219 people (4,656 / 7,563) were laid off from law firms in calendar 2009. The Year in Layoffs – 2009, consolidates and analyzes all of the information about law-firm layoffs last year.
Numbers tailed off dramatically after that. In 2010, 745 people were laid off (234 / 511).
2011 has been even slower, with just 439 people let go, of which merely 12 were lawyers. There are firms that laid off more than that in a single day in 2009. While Wall Street is laying off droves again, BigLaw is still slow to follow. The latest threat is no longer simple lack of work – it is firms’ outsourcing work to low-cost, typically offshore, legal service providers.
As traffic has increased, this page’s performance has diminished. In order to increase performance, we’ve moved many of the interactive historical charts to separate pages.
- Current and Prior Months
- Rolling 12 Months
- Top Ten Firms by Layoff Count
- Raw Data
- Copyright and Custom Reports
In addition to the aggregated 2009 year-end review (which includes December 09), we wrote monthly summaries of layoff activity, in a series called “The Month in Layoffs” through March, 2010. More-granular reporting was included in the”This Week in Layoffs” series through about the same period. After that, layoff news was included in the “This Week in BigLaw” column when needed.
Charts for earlier periods:
- January 10
- December 09
- November 09
- October 09
- September 09
- August 09
- July 09
- June 09
- May 09
- April 09
- March 09
- February 09
- January 09
- 4Q 08 (October-December 08)
- 3Q 08 (July-September 08)
- 2Q 08 (April-August 08)
- 1Q 08 (January-March 08)
- A number of events, like the Heller dissolution, aren’t included here because those are complete failures of a firm, not just selective layoffs.
- We track totals of associates and staff (and in the case of Jenner & Block, partners), without distinguishing.
- We treat layoffs of staff attorneys and contract attorneys as staff layoffs. Attorney counts are for associates, counsel, and partners.
- When a range is reported, we report the high end of the range and revise downward as warranted. Frankly, the total number is already understated due to “stealth” layoffs.
- We don’t exactly follow the AmLaw 100 or Vault rankings or anything else scientific. It’s purely our subjective assessment of what constitutes “BigLaw.” There are certainly firms toward the latter parts of those rankings that we just have never come across in our practice, so we don’t think of them as BigLaw. If you want a firm added to the list, just send us the source and if it’s reasonably close, we’ll add it.
- Right now, we’re tracking all layoffs since January 2008. As time goes by, we’ll consider shortening the time frame. You’ll also find articles on the main site that analyze the data by various attributes. We’ll try to link back to those from here.
- The data are attributed to the best of our knowledge; if you see any mistakes, let us know. We try to attribute to the first site to report, but often we just attribute to the easiest source for us to validate.
The table below includes all of the data we track. This is the source for the total number at the top of the page.
In life, tradeoffs must be made. The tradeoff this time is that you now gain the ability to sort the columns as you choose but you can no longer click directly on the link. Zoho is working on it and we’ll implement that as soon as they do.
Many thanks to Above the Law, the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog, and ALM’s American Lawyer Layoff List. We got the idea from TechCrunch’s tech industry layoff tracker (but have given up on icharts for now, in favor of zoho). Please post corrections and additions in the comments or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. In case you hadn’t noticed, we have no design skills whatsoever. If you can help, please let us know.
Law Shucks Layoff Tracker by Law Shucks is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at lawshucks.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://lawshucks.com/about/contact/.
Custom reports are available. Contact us with any requests.