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Friday the 13th Comes a Day Early for Law Firms

Don't call Bruce MacEwen, of the Adam Smith, Esq. blog, a triskaidekaphobic. As MacEwen argues, yesterday's spate of law firm layoffs (nearly 800 associates and staff nationwide, according to The Recorder) has nothing to do with bad luck, it's just another sign of today's recessionary times. 

Still, why did firms announce so many layoffs on Thursday?  MacEwen says that it's partly coincidence, but also partly a result of three other factors:

* Financial results for 2008 are now in, and there can no longer be an argument in many firms that "we need to wait to see what the numbers actually are" before making any decisions. Lawyers are, among other things, believers in evidence, and the results of 2008 are now in evidence. I can imagine that many tentative decisions which were awaiting confirmation by the final numbers were pending, only to be announced this week.

* Similarly, no one wants to be so heartless and inhumane as to fire people during the holidays. This would explain the withholding of layoff announcements during December and early January.

* During end-of-year discussions with clients about collections and expectations for 2009, you have to believe that some reality checks were put in place about what level of revenue firms might expect going forward. If those expectations are now built in to the firms' 2009 financial models, adjustments in the cost base might be in order.

Seems that this Friday the 13th is just a sign that many more days of bad luck lie ahead for lawyers.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on February 13, 2009 at 01:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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