Stealth Layoffs Come For Junior Associates At Top 20 Biglaw Firm

Hot on the heels of news of stealth layoffs taking place at the wealthiest law firm in the world, we’ve discovered that stealth layoffs have taken place at yet another top Biglaw firm.

According to a report from Bloomberg Law, Cooley is the latest firm to conduct a wave of layoffs within its corporate practice — although the firm refused to describe the cuts as such. Cooley is currently ranked in the top 20 of the Am Law 100, but a great deal of its clients are ensconced within the tech sector, which is currently suffering under the weight of the economic downturn. Here are the details:

A Cooley spokesperson confirmed that an unspecified number of associates have been let go.

“The firm concluded its annual mid-year associate performance review process this past summer,” the spokesperson said. “Any attorney separations that have occurred to-date are a result of that process.”

Three sources familiar with the situation described the cuts as “layoffs” not related to performance. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said many of those let go were junior associates in Northern California.

Just like Kirkland & Ellis before it, Cooley — a firm that brought in $1,986,777,000 gross revenue in 2021 — is couching these layoffs in terms of performance. The fact that these reductions in associate headcount happened during a major slowdown in corporate work was just coincidental, of course. This toxic business practice is designed 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 full bonuses.

This is just the latest we’ve heard of problems occurring at the firm. Cooley went on a corporate hiring spree in 2022, scooping up lateral associates and partners in droves. Back in September, however, when things were just starting to go south, the firm was said to have implemented an associate hiring freeze, but denied the official existence of such a program at the time.

If your firm or organization is reducing the ranks of its lawyers or staff, whether through open layoffs, stealth layoffs, or voluntary buyouts, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Our vast network of tipsters is part of what makes Above the Law thrive. You can email us or text us (646-820-8477).

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Cooley Axes Corporate Associates as Tech Sector Feels Crunch [Bloomberg Law]

Staci ZaretskyStaci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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