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by Vault Law Editors | February 25, 2009

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Layoffs at Latham seem all but inevitable. The rumor mill has reached critical mass and the firm has declined to comment. And as a great man said, “But silence too is eloquent.”

This year, for obvious topical reasons, we’ve added a “Business Outlook” question to our Associate Survey:

What do you think is the overall business outlook for your firm? Talk about any strengths and weaknesses in competition, employee morale, etc., that would be helpful for someone considering employment at this firm.

Our 2009 survey is ongoing and will continue at least through the end of March.  Below is a small selection of Latham associates’ responses—thus far—to the Business Outlook question.  (All of these responses predate this morning’s ATL post linked above.)  The responses show that most Latham associates were admirably clear-eyed about the reality of their circumstances.  For every apparent Kool Aid drinker (e.g., “Our firm is very open about its decisions and thought processes in dealing with the economy right now. A priority is no de-equitization and no layoffs, even if that means lower partner profits and a salary freeze.”), there are a dozen colleagues who saw which way the wind was blowing.  A small sample:

“I think associates here believe layoffs are imminent. The firm published a huge drop in profitability. Considering how much the firm grew in recent years, it seems like the downside could be equally as huge. I would assume the firm has to shed quite a bit of its associate ranks to be competitive in the new economy.”

“Morale is so low it's impossible to get any work done--associates constantly check blogs and speculate. Many rumors are unfounded and cause undue stress. We are all frantically looking for jobs.”

“Major clients are bankrupt, we have over-hired, receivables are down and there's no reason to think our finance guys and real estate guys will have any billable work to do in the near future.”

The best response so far:

“If you saw two ships coming around the Horn of Africa, and one had everyone on deck and was having a party, and the other had all the hatches closed and everyone below decks, which ship would you think was better poised for what was yet to come? Latham is prepared, sir.”

Though I'm not sure what that means exactly.

                                              -posted by brian

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