BigLaw attorneys: When do firms start making cuts?

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BigLaw attorneys: When do firms start making cuts?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:02 pm

People always talk about firms "asking" associates to leave at a certain point. When does this start to happen? It is an annual thing?

dvlthndr

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Re: BigLaw attorneys: When do firms start making cuts?

Postby dvlthndr » Tue Sep 10, 2019 7:02 pm

It is rare (but not unheard of) for 1st and 2nd year associates to be let go. Beyond that, and in any given year you will see people drop off pretty regularly.

I think it's common to have two reviews per year. If you are low on hours for 2-3 review periods in a row, you may be "advised" to find opportunities elsewhere. Most firms want to part on amicable terms, and they may agree to keep you on payroll for 3-months with a light work-load as you look for things.

You also see a lot of movement at the very start of the year (after people have collected their end of year bonuses).

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Re: BigLaw attorneys: When do firms start making cuts?

Postby Larrymitchell808 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 7:25 pm

dvlthndr wrote:It is rare (but not unheard of) for 1st and 2nd year associates to be let go. Beyond that, and in any given year you will see people drop off pretty regularly.

I think it's common to have two reviews per year. If you are low on hours for 2-3 review periods in a row, you may be "advised" to find opportunities elsewhere. Most firms want to part on amicable terms, and they may agree to keep you on payroll for 3-months with a light work-load as you look for things.

You also see a lot of movement at the very start of the year (after people have collected their end of year bonuses).


Wondering how this would work in firms with no billable hour requirements? Also, associates tend to leave on their own after 2-3 years so I'm not sure what % are being asked to leave each year.

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Re: BigLaw attorneys: When do firms start making cuts?

Postby dvlthndr » Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:08 pm

Everything is linked. If your work isn't up to snuff, your work load will dry up naturally. Billable hours is an easy semi-objective metric to point to -- but you can get the same information by just keeping tabs on how busy you are and what projects you are staffed on (and getting feedback from partners/managers). For firms without an hour requirement, it's just a series of bad performance reviews and/or an abnormal amount of downtime.

Associates may naturally leave on their own. My sense is that is more common in corporate groups where there are more lucrative in-house positions. Keep in mind that firms always want it to *seem* that people left on their own even if they were "encouraged" to leave.

I don't know the exact statistics, but my sense is that the class drops in half every time you move from Junior --> Midlevel --> Senior Associate --> Counsel/Partner.

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Re: BigLaw attorneys: When do firms start making cuts?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:59 am

At my V50, some second years get fired each year. I have heard of a first year getting fired too, but that's very rare.

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Re: BigLaw attorneys: When do firms start making cuts?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:26 pm

dvlthndr wrote:Everything is linked. If your work isn't up to snuff, your work load will dry up naturally. Billable hours is an easy semi-objective metric to point to -- but you can get the same information by just keeping tabs on how busy you are and what projects you are staffed on (and getting feedback from partners/managers).


Curious how others make a determination based on the bolded (e.g., what kinds of projects are "good" and what kind are "bad").

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Re: BigLaw attorneys: When do firms start making cuts?

Postby The Lsat Airbender » Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
dvlthndr wrote:Everything is linked. If your work isn't up to snuff, your work load will dry up naturally. Billable hours is an easy semi-objective metric to point to -- but you can get the same information by just keeping tabs on how busy you are and what projects you are staffed on (and getting feedback from partners/managers).


Curious how others make a determination based on the bolded (e.g., what kinds of projects are "good" and what kind are "bad").


what projects you are staffed on (and getting feedback from partners/managers)

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Re: BigLaw attorneys: When do firms start making cuts?

Postby hlsperson1111 » Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
dvlthndr wrote:Everything is linked. If your work isn't up to snuff, your work load will dry up naturally. Billable hours is an easy semi-objective metric to point to -- but you can get the same information by just keeping tabs on how busy you are and what projects you are staffed on (and getting feedback from partners/managers).


Curious how others make a determination based on the bolded (e.g., what kinds of projects are "good" and what kind are "bad").


You should be getting progressively more substantive experience over time - taking/defending depositions, drafting motions (particularly dispositive motions), and going to court (if only for relatively minor things). If you are a third/fourth year and all you have done is discrete legal research and document review, that's not a good sign. I'm sure the same is true for transactional attorneys, but I couldn't tell you what the relevant benchmarks are.

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Re: BigLaw attorneys: When do firms start making cuts?

Postby MillllerTime » Wed Sep 11, 2019 10:20 pm

hlsperson1111 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
dvlthndr wrote:Everything is linked. If your work isn't up to snuff, your work load will dry up naturally. Billable hours is an easy semi-objective metric to point to -- but you can get the same information by just keeping tabs on how busy you are and what projects you are staffed on (and getting feedback from partners/managers).


Curious how others make a determination based on the bolded (e.g., what kinds of projects are "good" and what kind are "bad").


You should be getting progressively more substantive experience over time - taking/defending depositions, drafting motions (particularly dispositive motions), and going to court (if only for relatively minor things). If you are a third/fourth year and all you have done is discrete legal research and document review, that's not a good sign. I'm sure the same is true for transactional attorneys, but I couldn't tell you what the relevant benchmarks are.


I've never noticed a difference in matter quality for M&A / PE work, at least not that I could determine upfront. Undoubtedly a cross-border carveout is more complicated than the stock sale of an all-U.S. business, but I've never seen partners systematically put the weaker associates on less complicated stuff. If anything, it's the opposite because a really good junior associate can just handle the entire non-complicated deal by themself much more efficiently (and those are the deals where bills get scrutinized). It's definitely true that I give a good second year purchase agreements and lesser second years diligence, but above that, everyone on the corporate side touches every document, so I wouldn't glean too much into that.

I think better indicators are (i) who you're getting staffed below and (ii) how comfortable partners feel letting you talk to clients about substantive issues. For (i), if you're consistently working directly with partners it's a good sign obviously - even better if they genuinely ask for your input. Not great if you're always below someone one year above you (but not something to worry about if it's just a big deal that requires that kind of staffing). For (ii), this still completely depends on the partner for me, but I know I must be doing some things right when the partner asks me to (or just assumes I will) lead a call with the decision makers.

Best

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Re: BigLaw attorneys: When do firms start making cuts?

Postby Best » Thu Sep 12, 2019 10:54 am

Larrymitchell808 wrote:
dvlthndr wrote:Wondering how this would work in firms with no billable hour requirements?


Firms with no stated billable hour requirements still have budget expectations.If you regularly are failing to meet their budget expectations, they'll let you go. Simple as that.



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