Firm Layoffs In January '10 88% Fewer Than In January '09

Cloudy Rainbow (AP)

January 2009 saw a slaughter in law firm offices — 694 attorneys and 846 staff were let go. A year later, a total of 136 people, 46 lawyers and 90 staff members, were given pink slips. 

These figures come from Law Schucks, which tracks the industry layoffs.  

That is obviously a significant improvement and provides hope that firms’ 2010 will far surpass what was a dismal 2009. (By far surpass we mean holding on to employees, rather than a huge increase in revenue or profits per partner. Modest increases and a keeping the ship seem most likely.)

But while the January 2009/January 2010 comparison was good, January 2010 saw almost double the layoffs as December 2009, Law Shucks points out. 

It makes sense that firms would do the clearing out in December and January, as 2009 were being wrapped up and assessed, so hopefully we really could be nearing the end of associates living in constant fear of seeing the door.

February should be a good bellwether. Another good indicator of firm health will be to see how busy the deferred associates that finally began work in January are in the coming months.

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