Troutman Sanders said Friday that the firm will lay off associates and offer staff a voluntary buyout, which is likely to be followed by a layoff. The 778-lawyer firm also has pushed back the start date for its 2009 first-year associates to January and shaved two weeks off its summer associate program.
Robert W. Webb Jr., the firm's chairman, said he held a meeting with staff, and then with associates Friday afternoon to give them the news. "I've never done this in my 16 years as managing partner," said Webb. "I never thought I'd have to."
At the meeting with associates, Webb told them that layoffs are in the offing and said the firm will move quickly on the cuts. "They're not going to be sitting around under a cloud of worry for a long time."
He emphasized that Troutman has not targeted a dollar amount that it wants to save or a set number of associates or staff to trim. The firm is undergoing a full-scale restructuring, said Webb, and still is identifying areas where it has more attorneys than work -- as well as areas where work likely won't come back -- to determine how many cuts to make. "If we do it right, these positions are not going to be refilled," said Webb.
"One of the things this economy does is make you look at everything," he said.
Troutman's staff was given a 6 p.m. Thursday deadline to respond to the buyout offer. The offer is for all 876 staff members, regardless of seniority, said Webb, and includes severance pay and health insurance coverage pegged to the number of years of employment. Staff with sufficient seniority also will receive a lump sum payment, he said, but declined to say how many years are required.
Webb noted that he's seen two other recessions during his management tenure. "This recession is different. It's more severe, and it's changing our industry. It really hurts. Our firm values our people and culture more than most. It's hurt to get here," he said.
See if your law firm is on The Layoff List.