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December 12, 2008 12:16 PM

Seyfarth Discusses How to Discuss Layoffs

Posted by Zach Lowe

The Am Law Daily is running out of leads for layoff stories, so we were relieved when we saw that Meredith Hobbs at the Fulton County Daily Report, an Am Law Daily sibling publication, got the managing partner of Seyfarth Shaw's Atlanta office to open up a bit about the recent layoffs there.

This statement from the partner, Paul Mattingly, especially caught our attention: "I'm not concerned about announcing layoffs publicly because these days they're a fact of life."

Seyfarth, which laid off 30 attorneys last week, is one of a handful of firms that has publicly announced layoffs and made clear that the unlucky associates are quality lawyers and unfortunate casualties of the economy (others include Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft,and White & Case.

Mattingly goes onto to say that he doesn't think it's fair for firms to engage in so-called stealth layoffs, where small groups of associates are fired quietly and told their performance is the reason. Those layoffs are usually not stealthy enough to avoid coming up on the popular blog Above the Law.

"Since layoffs have become so pervasive, clarifying that they were not for performance reasons, but because of market conditions, seemed like the fair thing to do," said Mattingly.

As for his firm's future, Mattingly is equally candid.

"It sucks out there," he said, "but we feel we're in as good a position to succeed in this environment as any firm."

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