Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Not every firm is keeping the team intact

The other day I mentioned that the large players in the real estate securitization field were holding on to their staff, assuming that the market would improve. And I liked seeing that in print.

But not every law firm can, could or would do that. Thus Clifford Chance axed six relatively senior structured finance associates who apparently worked exclusively on S&P matters, under the theory that the work was never coming back. Not a huge layoff by any BigLaw standard, but it is nonetheless news.

CC is of course in a different situation than the big boys in securitization, and if the work truly was gone for good there was probably nothing else to do with these folks. So the story says, they all get severance, but apparently not those 2007 NYC-level bonuses, which can be pretty large for senior associates. It will be interesting to see where these lawyers will wind up. I do agree with Above The Law that CC at least did the honorable thing by not calling these "performance-based" layoffs.

What can you learn from this? The biggest thing is to not let yourself get pigeonholed if at all possible. Wen I was an associate I tried and was given a wide variety of real estate assignments so I can be of the most use to clients, the firm and for my future. It can pay to be really, really good at just one thing, but if that one thing becomes obsolete, you've got trouble in River City. Ask your local blacksmith if you don't believe me.

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