Kirkland & Ellis Implements Stealth Layoffs Amid Economic Downturn |

Kirkland & Ellis Implements Stealth Layoffs Amid Economic Downturn


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Kirkland & Ellis, World's Richest Biglaw Firm, Implements Stealth Layoffs

What are stealth layoffs and how do they impact associates?

As the global economy continues to struggle, many large corporations and businesses are feeling pressure. Unfortunately, this often means that employees are the first to feel the impact as companies look for ways to cut costs and stay afloat. One such tactic that has become increasingly common in the legal industry is using stealth layoffs.

A stealth layoff is a way for a company to reduce headcount without officially confirming financially motivated layoffs. This can take the form of letting associates go or giving them a specific amount of time to find a new job. The firm will often couch the reductions in terms of performance, making it seem as though the layoffs are the result of poor performance on the part of the associates, rather than a financial decision made by the company.
One of the biggest firms to recently implement stealth layoffs is Kirkland & Ellis, a global law firm that made $6,042,000,000 in gross revenue in 2021. According to, the firm has let go of multiple corporate associates in Texas following performance reviews. The report states that the firm is contending with a downturn in corporate work and overcapacity of transactional hires made in response to last year’s surge in demand.
Sources with direct contact with affected individuals said that trimming associate ranks is a common practice for Kirkland & Ellis and other big firms, as the year’s end occasions a hard look at the financial performance of various practices and the performance of individual associates. However, market conditions have made certain practices more vulnerable than others. Some sources have said that the latest round of cuts at Kirkland appeared to target more corporate associates than other practices.
As many as 20 to 25 associates in Kirkland’s U.S. offices could have been affected by the cuts in the last several weeks. Associates who were let go had reportedly been given warnings about low billable hours and other performance issues and were offered several months’ severance for signing a nondisparagement agreement.
It's worth noting that stealth layoffs can be detrimental to the morale and well-being of the associates who are let go and the remaining associates who may feel insecure about their own job security. The practice also tends to push the blame for the cuts on the associates themselves when, if the economy remained just a bit stronger, those same associates would likely still be getting stellar reviews and total bonuses.
The use of stealth layoffs by Kirkland & Ellis, the world's richest big law firm, serves as a reminder of the harsh realities of the current economic climate and the impact it can have on businesses and employees. As the legal industry faces challenges, firms need to be transparent and considerate in their approach to layoffs and cost-cutting measures.
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About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

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Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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