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You're Fired. Oh, and You're Welcome.

By Kevin Fayle on July 01, 2009 8:14 PM

Dan Slater, the former writer of the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, has an interesting piece in today's New York Times called "In Praise of Law Firm Layoffs".  In the article, Slater makes the argument that the current wave of layoffs that is currently sucking thousands of attorneys down in the undertow is actually the best thing to happen to the legal profession in a long time.

Slater first lists the benefits to corporate counsel who have long suffered through law firm compensation models that emphasize the quantity of billable hours over the quality of the work product.
Then Slater throws out the theory that the law firm layoffs really benefit the laid off attorneys themselves.  It's an opportunity, Slater writes, to leave the hellish world of BigLaw behind and pursue those dreams that all young children had before they grew up, grew cynical and went to law school.

And what about all those 20- and 30-something associates who can no longer formulate excuses -- ­ But I'm paying off my law school debt while I figure out what I want to do! -- ­ to remain in the kinds of jobs that so many of my law firm friends describe as "soul-crushing"? For many lawyers at law firms, particularly those who spent the early part of their careers toiling in structured finance departments and contributing, in the end, nothing to nothing, this recession may be the thing that delivers them from more 3,000-hour years of such drudgery as changing the dates on securitization documents and shuffling them from one side of the desk to the other.
Plus, if those attorneys decide to remain in the law (after all, some people actually like practicing law) and aren't able to make a lateral move between BigLaw firms, then smaller firms have a great opportunity to pick up some top talent for bargain basement prices.

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