Associate cuts were not layoffs, BigLaw firm says

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A spokesperson for Kirkland & Ellis says associate cuts last week were not layoffs.

“These were performance-based decisions resulting directly from our attorney review process, just like we do every year for all attorneys at all levels,” a Kirkland spokesperson told and Bloomberg Law via Above the Law.

The cuts come at a time when corporate associates are facing a tough hiring market, caused by layoffs at many firms and a work slowdown that makes law firms reluctant to hire, according to Kirkland also cut associates in November.

“Firms can be choosey because there are lots of corporate associates in the market,” said David Nicol, a partner and owner of recruitment firm Marsden, in an interview with

Firms that are hiring have specific requirements for class year, practice focus and academic background, he said.

Kirkland is offering a severance package that includes full salary and benefits and a presence on Kirkland’s website until July 31, according to anonymous sources who spoke with and Bloomberg Law. Among those cut were associates who had been recruited from other firms at a time when firms were busy and ramping up hiring, the sources said.

“It’s been frustrating to see what looks like reckless overhiring,” one Kirkland associate told Bloomberg Law.

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