Law Firms

More law firms are likely to make some furloughs permanent, legal experts say

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Katten Muchin Rosenman’s decision to lay off some furloughed staff members may be followed by more announcements of layoffs at other law firms, according to legal industry experts.

The American Lawyer counts at least 30 law firms that have furloughed some employees. As law firms evaluate how they are faring without those staffers, they could make some furloughs permanent, according to experts who spoke with the American Lawyer.

One expert who spoke with the American Lawyer is John Reed, founder and chief consultant of the legal marketing and consulting firm Rain BDM in Michigan. He said he has already seen layoffs of marketing and business development personnel at some law firms.

“It’s going to happen to other parts of the firm, as well,” Reed said.

Lawyers may not be immune from layoffs, according to legal consultant Kent Zimmermann of the Zeughauser Group in Chicago.

Law firms “are looking at ways to shore up their margins and profitability,” and they could do that “by looking at overcapacity on the lawyer side and also on the staff side,” he told the American Lawyer.

The layoffs at Katten Muchin don’t affect lawyers. The firm is laying off some members of its business administration staff beginning Aug. 1, previously reported. The firm is paying severance equal to one week of pay for each year at the firm, with a minimum of eight weeks of severance pay.

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