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Paul Hastings Denies Reports of LayoffsA fired associate contends the firm is laying off midlevels, but the firm says it's just conducting performance reviews
An e-mail from a fired Paul Hastings associate has spurred chatter that the firm is laying off attorneys. But the firm says that's not so. Spokeswoman Eileen King says that, while some associates have been let go, they were part of typical performance reviews and the numbers were in line with last year's cuts. Talk of Paul Hastings' head count has arisen in the wake of Shinyung Oh's leaked e-mail to Paul Hastings associates, in which she noted that the firm let her go six days after a miscarriage.
The American Lawyer2008-05-12 12:00:00 AM
An e-mail from a fired Paul Hastings associate spurred online chatter that the firm was laying off attorneys. But the firm says that's not the case.
On Monday, Above the Law posted a leaked e-mail to Paul Hastings associates from Shinyung Oh, a commercial litigation lawyer who was fired April 30. The e-mail noted that she was let go six days after a miscarriage and a few months after a poor performance review. The legal blog touted the missive as proof of layoffs, and in a follow-up post said the firm had canned at least 22 associates.
But Paul Hastings spokeswoman Eileen King told The Am Law Daily that while some associates have been let go, they were part of typical annual performance reviews. While she declines to say how many had been let go, King says the numbers were in line with last year's cuts.
"There is always resulting turnover [after performance reviews], but we have not done any layoffs," King says. "It's really normal attrition based on performance evaluations, and the numbers show year over year that we're up in associates. We're a healthy firm in terms of head count and real revenue perspective, and the numbers really say the story in my mind."
King would not comment on specific firings such as that of Oh, who spoke with The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog on Thursday. Oh said she sent the e-mail because she didn't want associates being laid off for economic reasons to feel as though they were being judged for their performance. "I want them to feel like they're not completely alone and not to worry about their own performance when it's the firm doing something for economic reasons" and because of a "desire to increase partner profits," Oh said.
Oh claimed she hadn't been told her performance was lacking until her last review, in March 2008. According to her 2006 performance review, obtained by The Wall Street Journal, she was generally described as "outstanding," exceeding or meeting expectations.
Oh has been able to speak out about the firings because she turned down a severance agreement for three months' base pay which would have restricted her from speaking about the firm publicly.
King says the firm's revenue and head count situation is healthy. Associate head count, she adds, is up "considerably" for the year, and the firm expects to welcome a larger summer associate class than in 2007. Revenue increased 19.9 percent in 2007, to $925 million. Profits per partner were up 19.6 percent, to $1.92 million.