Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner announces layoffs; experts say other firms may follow
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Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner announced Wednesday that it is laying off a small number of lawyers and staff members across its global offices.
The firm wouldn’t confirm the number of layoffs elsewhere, but said a “very small proportion” of the global workforce will be affected.
“While a difficult decision to make, we believe the limited adjustments to our workforce are in the best interest of our clients, our business and our people for the long term,” BCLP co-chairs Lisa Mayhew and Steve Baumer said in a statement.
There is some good news for the law firm’s employees and lawyers. The firm said it will reduce pay cuts for those earning more than $40,000 a year. Instead of a cut of 15% a year, the employees will now see only a 7.5% reduction.
BCLP said the pay-cut rollback was being implemented after exceeding performance expectations for the first half of the year.
It may not be the last of the layoffs, according to law firm leaders and industry observers who spoke with Law.com.
Law firm strategist Hugh Simons is among the experts who believe more layoffs are coming.
“Firms are getting to grips with the idea that the economy will stay down for a while,” Simons told Law.com. “The next step is structural change.”
When law firms don’t have enough work, “partners don’t push work down to nonequity partners, who don’t push work down to senior associates,” Simons said. People at the bottom don’t get enough work to grow, he said. At that point, law firms begin layoffs so remaining midlevel associates can develop.
Law firm leaders interviewed by Law.com were seeing reason for optimism, but they weren’t taking layoffs off the tablee.
Sullivan & Worcester managing partner Joel Carpenter is among the law firm leaders who spoke with Law.com. He said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the future after the firm took some steps to get through the early days of the COVID019 pandemic. Those steps, taken in early April, included furloughs and pay cuts.
“In the third quarter, I’m hoping and expecting we remain stable, and that things don’t go down again,” Carpenter told Law.com. “If things stay stable, we aren’t contemplating any layoffs at this point. However, you can never say never about anything because you don’t know what the future holds.”