The New York City law firm managed to get through the recession without mass layoffs, but it’s letting 60 lawyers and 110 staff members go today. It has already cut the pay of 30 of the firm’s 300 partners.
Weil’s Chairman Barry Wolf told DealBook there just wasn’t enough work for all the lawyers there anymore.
The timing of the mass layoffs is unusual. Big law firms had mass layoffs during the recession, but those have eased up in the past few years. Weil probably managed to avoid recession-era layoffs because one of its specialties is bankruptcy — an area of the law that thrives during tough economic times.
While it’s possible other firms may start laying off associates, Weil was in a pretty unusual position because it had a number of very lucrative bankruptcies (including Lehman) that have been winding down, industry expert Steven Harper told us.
“So the firm may have had unique reasons to act as it has,” says Harper, author of “The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession In Crisis.
“What’s especially remarkable to me is that a firm would announce a major layoff now,” Harper added, “when top law students from all over the country are getting their first taste of life in a big firm as summer associates.”
Weil is one of the largest law firms in America, as was Dewey & LeBoeuf, which filed for bankruptcy last year. Unlike debt-laden Dewey though, Weil told DealBook it had zero debt.
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