Once upon a time, a big firm had to be coy about layoffs – it didn’t want to gain a reputation as an unstable workplace. But in a startling real-world example of social norm shifts, the stigma around layoffs appears to be crumbling.
If you want the best example of the social norm shift, compare the tone of Above The Law’s coverage of layoffs late last year versus their coverage of the layoffs today. The language used late last year was often angry and accusatory; partners were typically said to be incompetent business people or just trying to protect their bottom line:
There is really only one way to tell if Orrick did “everything” to save jobs. Last year profits per partner were $1.67 million. Yesterday, a tipster told us that the goal was to keep PPP over $1.5 million. So it’ll be pretty interesting when the 2008 PPP numbers come out. Then we’ll see just how much the firm did to protect jobs.
Only 3 attorneys! And only 13 staffers! It’s probably the best news we’ve had all day.
You could probably do a very interesting sociological study on the tone of the comments following these posts as well, as an entire generation of lawyers begins to realize that they are not immune from economics.
Of course lawyers aren’t the only ones hit; my condolences to my old friends who were laid off/fired/resigned from Novell last week1; most of you were excellent co-workers and you’ll land on your feet eventually.