You need to keep the unpleasant possibility of lay-offs in the back of your mind, for it has become a very relevant possibility whether you are a partner or an associate. In fact, the larger your firm and the more practice areas it offers, the greater the lay-off danger, especially if each practice specialty is considered its own profit center. We'll tell you how to spot the signs of pending lay-offs in a moment, but first, a little legal cultural history is in order, as it will place the specter of law firm lay-offs in context for you.

Are you about to be laid off

Law as a Gentleman's Club
Still in the memories of lawyers now in their sixties lives a magical era when big law firms did not lay off attorneys. Instead, their bonuses might be discreetly cut, their clients shared or gently expropriated (while accompanied by some seemingly plausible explanation), and their salaries secretly frozen. These middle-aged and older lawyers would be silently acknowledged as deadwood, carried by other more productive partners and associates until eventually made of counsel or given a dinner and gracefully retired. Unless there was moral turpitude involved, a lawyer, with few exceptions, was almost guaranteed lifetime employment.