Big Law associates feel like they’ve been treading water for more than a year as layoffs have rolled through many firms—some recently. While we do not know the official number of associates that have been laid off, it’s safe to say it is significant. What’s more interesting is the impact it will have on these lawyers for the rest of the careers. Will they switch practice areas? Will it change the way they manage down? Will they flee firms, assuming that going in-house (or going in another direction) is safer? If they were let go from an Am Law 50 firm and found they had to accept an offer at one outside of the Am Law 100, will they be able to claw back up the rankings (if that is a priority for them)?

There are lessons to be learned from what happened to associates who cut their teeth during the financial crisis of 2008-2010. It’s helpful to look at today’s layoffs through that lens, to try to predict the direction of lawyers’ careers.