At the top of the list is the report of stealth layoffs and low summer offers in the Chicago office. Today, David Lat brought that up to date on Abovethelaw.com through his myriad sources. In the update, contacts tell him that there could also be stealth layoffs in the litigation department in W&S's New York office, come fall. Throughout the W&S system, associates are bellyaching about poor distribution of work among them. That translates into not enough billable hours which makes them vulnerable to being chopped.
You bet, angst runs high. And that leads into the second focus which is how secure are associate jobs in general in BigLaw. Sources tell Lat business isn't so hot at W&S. That might also be the situation at other law firms. The sector never bounced back from the 2007 crash. Revenue growth is low or flat. There's expense creep.
The third factor that's being monitored is any sign of radical change in staffing, ranging from the personal secretary to the equity partner. The traditional law firm could adopt the model once-traditional GE did in the early 1980s when it went lean. About 100,000 jobs were eliminated. The contract employee was made mainstream.
This fall, if there isn't a strong turnaround in the legal sector, major changes could take place.