Practicing Law in 2013

USFWS Law Enforcement target practice at outdoor shooting range in Glastonbury, CT, Bill Butcher/USFWS
USFWS Law Enforcement target practice at outdoor shooting range in Glastonbury, CT, Bill Butcher/USFWS

[T]he big legal story of the day is the news out of Weil Gotshal. The firm is conducting large layoffs of both attorneys and staff, as well as reducing partner pay.

Thus far, many of our recent layoff stories have involved staff layoffs, especially secretarial layoffs; relatively small numbers of affected individuals; and firms not in the tippy-top tier of Biglaw. So that’s what makes the Weil news so notable — and so frightening.

Weil is an elite firm, in both profits and prestige. The cuts it just announced affect lawyers, not just staff, and reach into the triple digits….

This has to be one of the largest rounds of layoffs by a leading law firm since Latham & Watkins laid off 440 people back in February 2009.

Nationwide Layoff Watch: Major Cuts Come To Weil Gotshal

Marcus Schantz hails from Chicago, where he decided to open his practice in 2008. Aside from trying a bunch of cases, he started a blog. He didn’t do a lot of writing, but what he did was pretty good. It wasn’t about his love of iPads or a listicle of things that might attract the sort of eyeballs inclined to visit the Puddle, but rather about things like his murder trials. Not nearly as breezy and intellectually stimulating as how to teach a CLE when everyone else in the room knows more than you.

Marcus has now announced that he’s hanging it up. Not just the blog, but the practice of law. And his reasons offer far more insight than the entirety of the Puddle.
. . .
New lawyers have this bizarre belief in their exceptionalism, that they are special, that their experience will be different from that of the thousands who came before them. How many times can old lawyers say that the practice of law is hard work, a tough business? It can be soul-crushing. It goes from high-flying to crash and burn in a blink of an eye. Marcus assumes that by getting out there, doing all the things that let the world know he’s available for purchase, would get him back on track. Even that isn’t reliable, though he will never find out.

A Dose of Marcus

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