Do you have attorney employees that you need to get rid of, but you feel bad about cutting them off in such an abysmal job market?
Well, then do what Mayer Brown did: farm them out to your clients' legal departments! According to the Chicago Tribune,
the firm has offered to ship out several of its young attorneys to be
in house counsel for clients like United Airlines parent UAL Corp. and
Kraft Foods Inc. in lieu of a layoff. The associates get a one year
guarantee of employment, but have to take a minimum pay cut of
That's right, Mayer is setting the salary for this
year of work at $60,000, plus benefits. After the year is up, the firm
doesn't guarantee any further employment.
Give the firm some
credit for helping out the younger associates who might have a harder
time finding work after a layoff. The strategy seems like it could
For the client, it's a no-brainer. They get a
highly qualified young attorney for free, and don't have to offer them
employment once the year is up (unless they want to.) Mayer gets to
keep its young talent in the bullpen, saves some money and builds up
some client goodwill.
Ah, but there's the rub. What if these
attorneys decide that they don't like this new arrangement all that
much? What if they determine that the company is giving them too much
work for a measly 60K and decide to blow off the job?
they'd probably be fired, first of all, but it could also damage client
relationships if it leads to any serious impact on the company's
business. The firm could suffer some real loss of prestige if even one
of the attorneys turns out to be a dud.
But I'm sure Mayer Brown
has considered this, and is confident that the young associates are
terrified of having to face the prospect of open-ended unemployment and
so will be on their best behavior while working with their clients.
The thing is, they're probably right.
See Also: Eight Mayer Brown Associates Take $100K-Plus Pay Cut to Work In-house (ABA Journal Daily News) One Alternative to Being Laid Off: A $100,000 Pay Cut for an In-House Job (AmLaw Daily) Mayer Brown 's Latest Perk: A $100,000 Pay Cut (Legal Blog Watch)