You always hear that young lawyers—first and second years—who get laid off are going to have a hard time landing new jobs with their skimpy resumes, but what about the lawyers cut from the top of the associate pile?
An occasional look at how laid-off legal professionals cope with a crisis economy.
Turns out life ain’t a bed of roses for them, either.
Beth Cody, a Silicon Valley recruiter with Law Firm Staff, says it’s not so hard to move an employed senior associate into a new firm, but if the same lawyer is out of work, it’s really tough. She’s been working with about five laid-off senior-level associates since the start of the year. And these are no slackers.
“It’s hard for me to place people who don’t have a job, even if they had a blue-chip resume,” she told Legal Pad. Firms think they were laid off because they were not going to make partner, she said. And even glowing letters of reference blaming the economy don’t seem to diminish that stigma.
The fate of those in that (lack of) position, after the jump.
Cody tells her clients to hang in there. Depending on how comfortable they are with getting new clients, she suggests they start their own practice. She’s also managing expectations. When things do improve, she says, some may be joining a new firm as a fifth-year associate and taking a $25,000 or more pay cut. A firm won’t bring in a seventh-year and pay them less, Cody said, but their salary may go from $225,000 to $200,000 or even $175,000.
Cody notes that attorneys who love the Big Law life and want to get into the game may be willing to take that step back as they restart their careers. "This is commonly done with lateral moves, to give associates more time to prove themselves at a new firm," she said. “I think they’ll want to re-prove themselves and develop unique skills.”
One of those skills may as well be building a book.
— Petra Pasternak