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CV19 Lawyer Compensation/Layoffs

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Has anyone heard from their firm on how the economic impacts of CV19 are going to affect partners/associates? There have been rumours circulating about layoffs, but I haven’t heard anything confirmed yet. 

No official word from my firm, except that the leaders are discussing what to do with associates whose workload has evaporated (deals cancelled etc), including whether or not it’s possible to have them temporarily do work in practice areas that aren’t dead. 

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Would be surprised if anyone has run numbers yet. Our firm is still struggling with the IT shift to remote, which seems to be the focus. I’m sure there’s a number of “what if” discussions, but do we really know if work has “evaporated” just yet given it has only been a week or two?

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All lawyers and legal assistants at my firm have been laid off from Monday March 23, 2020 to June 1, 2020. I question the legality of this as temporary layoffs are neither permitted by our contracts nor part of our industry nor done by consent, and because we were not provided with notice/severance/holiday pay. However, I’m worried that if I ask too many questions I just won’t be hired back in June, and it’s not a great time to be searching for jobs.

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10 minutes ago, sunnyskies1992 said:

All lawyers and legal assistants at my firm have been laid off from Monday March 23, 2020 to June 1, 2020. I question the legality of this as temporary layoffs are neither permitted by our contracts nor part of our industry nor done by consent, and because we were not provided with notice/severance/holiday pay. However, I’m worried that if I ask too many questions I just won’t be hired back in June, and it’s not a great time to be searching for jobs.

Maybe wait until June and then bring up questions then?

Of course, I know nothing about employment law and implicitly consenting to the validity of a lay off, etc***

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, sunnyskies1992 said:

All lawyers and legal assistants at my firm have been laid off from Monday March 23, 2020 to June 1, 2020. I question the legality of this as temporary layoffs are neither permitted by our contracts nor part of our industry nor done by consent, and because we were not provided with notice/severance/holiday pay. However, I’m worried that if I ask too many questions I just won’t be hired back in June, and it’s not a great time to be searching for jobs.

I've heard of a few firms now that have temporarily laid off their associates, staff, and students. Pretty scary times.

 

EDIT - in regards to articling students, I am not sure if that would even be permissible, and query what the LSO would say about it. Outside of my domain, but inquiring minds wonder...

Edited by happydude

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1 minute ago, happydude said:

I've heard of a few firms now that have laid off their associates, staff, and students. Pretty scary times.

Laid off as in forever gone or as in temporarily/until further notice?

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Just now, kakoke said:

Laid off as in forever gone or as in temporarily/until further notice?

Temporary layoffs. I should have been clearer. I have edited my previous post.

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Learned today that the articling students at my previous firm have been laid off indefinitely. Won't speculate as to what this means for everyone else as nobody would ever describe this firm as being well managed.

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Are these big firms? I'm curious as to how the economics of this (and the need to lay off associates) differs between firm size.

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The big firms seem to be doing fine for now. I'm working as much as ever as are most people in my group.

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3 hours ago, TheGazeboEffect said:

Are these big firms? I'm curious as to how the economics of this (and the need to lay off associates) differs between firm size.

Mid sized lit firm. At the moment we are fine. 

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I have gone for more outside advice this week than most. And litigation is a bit slow for now, but there will be a rush when the courts start to come online again.

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Folks getting laid off due to the vid - make sure you register for the federal EI / EI equivalent stuff that is flowing out now.

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On 3/21/2020 at 9:59 AM, TheGazeboEffect said:

Are these big firms? I'm curious as to how the economics of this (and the need to lay off associates) differs between firm size.

big or small.. i expected temporary layoffs in the creative arts/entertainment, travel/airline industries, not in law offices.. ok i understand student hiring being postponed, but even associates? 

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Also at a big firm and we are BUSY. We've had some court dates pushed back but as of now there is no shortage of work. We are also doing remote discovery etc. So in many ways the litigation files are still being pushed forward. 

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Posted this in the "Pandemic" thread, but I suppose it is relevant here.

Myself and three others were laid off yesterday.  Small PI firm in the Greater Toronto Area.  4 lawyers, maybe 6-7 paralegals and 4-5 support staff in total.  My boss adamantly told me that it was not a performance issue and that it was just down to numbers.  It was a little hard to take - the year had been going very well numbers-wise for me (in terms of settlement figures) up until the last week and a half.

Basically, all of our mediations and EFD's that were scheduled to occur in the next six weeks had been cancelled.  Counsel were generally hesitant to switch the in-person mediations to teleconferences or videoconferences.  As well, there is a very strong preference for in-person discoveries in the PI field.  Mediations are where a ton of our files settle.  It seems as though the powers that be at my firm are now trying to settle whatever files were earmarked for mediation at a discount to bring some money into the firm and keep the lights on.  We tried to settle files over the phone and via e-mail in the last few weeks, but many of our opposite numbers were either not in the office or in quarantine.  Then, in the event that we did reach them, it would take a long time to get instructions from their adjuster clients.

Bummer.

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40 minutes ago, WicketStyx said:

It seems as though the powers that be at my firm are now trying to settle whatever files were earmarked for mediation at a discount to bring some money into the firm and keep the lights on.

Will be sure to pass this on to my defence friends ;)

edit:  I really do feel for you, and am very lucky I am not in your situation.

In related news, our practice lead recently sent an e-mail asking us how much work we realistically had to do during the shutdown.  Me, not wanting to be laid off, overestimated and told them I think I had at least 8 weeks worth of work. 

My colleague on the other hand told me he responded that he only had two weeks worth of work (which was an underestimate), on the theory that they would transfer work from the busier people to the less busy people.  

We apparently have two very different visions as to how our firm operates!

Edited by utmguy
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