Reports of Stealth Layoffs at Snell & Wilmer: Are Biglaw Firms Cutting Headcount Under the Radar? |

Reports of Stealth Layoffs at Snell & Wilmer: Are Biglaw Firms Cutting Headcount Under the Radar?


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Snell & Wilmer Denies Reports of Stealth Layoffs Amid Economic Downturn

What Are Stealth Layoffs in Biglaw and How Do They Affect Associates?

As the economic downturn continues to impact industries across the board, reports have surfaced of another biglaw firm engaging in stealth layoffs. Snell & Wilmer, an Am Law 200 firm, is said to have let go of some associates in recent months, with insiders reporting that the firm characterized these terminations as performance-based. However, many within the firm are skeptical of this explanation and believe that the terminations may be part of a larger trend of stealth layoffs in biglaw.

For those who may not be familiar, stealth layoffs are a particularly pernicious form of headcount management that biglaw firms may engage in during economic downturns. Essentially, firms will cut associates (who often had good performance reviews until the economy took a hit) while calling the cuts "performance-based." This allows firms to cut
headcount without confirming that there were economic-based layoffs, and instead signal that the cuts were made for other reasons.
Snell & Wilmer, like many other firms, has been impacted by the economic downturn, previously cutting associate salaries by 10 percent and furloughing staff who can't work remotely. Now multiple tipsters from the firm are reporting that there has been some headcount management at the firm. Though they're being told the terminations are performance-based, many are skeptical of this explanation.
One tipster reported, "Snell Wilmer has laid off associates in LA and OC, for, supposedly, underperformance. Definitely BS… we all know they were stealth layoffs." Another said, "The firm is publicly stating that they are not doing layoffs, and has reduced all employees salaries as a way to 'avoid layoffs' but had secretly been conducting layoffs anyways."
In response to these reports, Matt Feeney, Chair of Snell & Wilmer, provided the following statement denying any associate departures resulted from layoffs: "Snell & Wilmer is not conducting layoffs, 'stealth' or otherwise. Out of respect for the privacy of our former employees, we do not provide details on departures."
While Snell & Wilmer denies that it is engaging in stealth layoffs, the reports from insiders and associates paint a different picture. The use of stealth layoffs in biglaw raises critical ethical questions about how firms manage their headcount during difficult economic times and how it impacts associates' livelihoods. It is important that firms are transparent about the reasons for terminations and that associates are treated fairly and respectfully during this difficult time.
It is a tough time for anyone who suddenly finds themselves out of work, especially during a pandemic. It is important to remember that it is not the fault of the individual but rather the result of larger economic forces at play. We wish the best for all those affected by these reports of stealth layoffs at Snell & Wilmer and hope that they are able to find new opportunities soon.
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.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

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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