Awkward or Not, Go to the Holiday Party, Recruiter Advises Laid-Off Associates

Last week, we reported that Morgan Lewis & Bockius invited their laid-off associates to the firm’s holiday party as alumni. The firm’s actions prompted law blog Above the Law to poll its readers whether these associates should return for the party.

More than 75 percent have said “no way,” and one of our commenters called the potential evening “just plain awkward.” Should they reconsider?

“Go,” says Beth Woods, managing director at legal recruiter Major Lindsey & Africa.

“The knee-jerk reaction would be to not stand in a room with people who are, or are soon to be, your former employers,” Woods said. “But the fact is that in this market and environment, people are getting jobs through relationships and referrals from the firms where they are at or are leaving.”

“It is essential to maintain relationships and do it with grace and a level of professionalism to make someone referring you feel comfortable and good about it,” said Woods, who specializes in associate practice.

Morgan Lewis isn’t the only firm to reach out to laid-off attorneys. Some firms, such as Kirkland & Ellis, have allowed laid-off associates to keep online bios visible on firm websites and access to work-related e-mail accounts. Other laid-off lawyers have negotiated with their former firms, including Sidley Austin, for temporary office space, Woods added.

“Part of it is giving people resources,” Woods said. “[When job-searching,] it’s easier to refer someone to a firm Web profile.”

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