Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Seyfarth layoffs

http://www.abajournal.com/news/arti cle/seyfarth_reportedly_l therewillbeblood05/19/17
The whole game of a lawl firm partner is to turn profit by s triplesix05/19/17
And overbilling clients. Seyfarth just seems to not want to therewillbeblood05/19/17
Aggressive parasites killing their hosts haha triplesix05/19/17
This is the model of any business with multiple employees - mtbislife05/19/17
I hate to say it, but Seyfarth might be onto something with mrtor05/19/17
an acquaintance at a biglaw firm a few years back got severe dingbat05/19/17
I work at a big 4 accounting firm. My firm is making a huge jdu1234432105/19/17
Automation gets you so far. Once clients learn what "mundane vohod05/19/17
Much was made of the bump from 160k to 180k at the time, eve 3lol05/19/17
It's a circle jerk signal to the client more than anything. shuntiii05/19/17
Would love to know what they can/ will automate. I have n shuntiii05/19/17
E-discovery is making huge leaps forward in their software s thirdtierlaw05/19/17
therewillbeblood (May 19, 2017 - 9:23 am)

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/seyfarth_reportedly_lays_off_40_lawyers_and_several_staffers

"Seyfarth had a strong year in 2016, with a 6 percent increase in gross revenue and a 3 percent increase in profits per partner, according to the Am Law Daily. But sources told that publication and others that revenue for the first quarter of 2017 was below expectations.

The layoffs reportedly affected junior partners, some associates and senior attorneys, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

The firm’s chair emeritus, Stephen Poor, criticized associate salary increases in a Bloomberg Big Law Business column last year. The increase from $160,000 to $180,000 for new associates “will place additional pressure on firms to correct staffing levels,” he argued. Seyfarth initially resisted the raises, adopted by many BigLaw firms, but eventually implemented them, according to the Am Law Daily.

Seyfarth announced last year that it signed a licensing deal to use “software robots” to automate mundane tasks."

While I don't usually care too much about biglaw goings-on, this seems kind of messed up even by biglaw sociopathy standards, because it's apparently solely about greed. Sounds like the partners grew enraged that profits per partner might end up $950,000 instead of $1,000,000, because by God are they entitled to that last $100,000.

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triplesix (May 19, 2017 - 9:55 am)

The whole game of a lawl firm partner is to turn profit by skimping on wages of slaves.

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therewillbeblood (May 19, 2017 - 10:05 am)

And overbilling clients. Seyfarth just seems to not want to hide it.

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triplesix (May 19, 2017 - 10:10 am)

Aggressive parasites killing their hosts haha

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mtbislife (May 19, 2017 - 2:12 pm)

This is the model of any business with multiple employees - employees are meant to be used.

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mrtor (May 19, 2017 - 10:05 am)

I hate to say it, but Seyfarth might be onto something with adopting technology to reduce costs. Numerous articles have criticized the field of law because it has been so reluctant to adopt new technologies and processes to reduce costs. I'm a lawyer, so I have a vested interest in my job -- however, objectively, it is an inevitable trend cutting across all fields. I am surprised it took this long.

It sounds like the pay bump may have inadvertently set off a chain reaction where technology starts eliminating repetitive tasks and cutting BigLaw associate headcounts. The other BigLaw firms will likely have to follow suit to compete. There may even be a trickle down effect to mid and small firms. There is still plenty of work that cannot be automated, but underperformers will be axed with their work consolidating to fewer associates.

Interesting.

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dingbat (May 19, 2017 - 10:11 am)

an acquaintance at a biglaw firm a few years back got severely reprimanded for creating a script to automate some mundane doc review.

My attitude was, if you're billing by time, who on earth would you do anything to reduce the amount of time something takes?

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jdu12344321 (May 19, 2017 - 10:25 am)

I work at a big 4 accounting firm. My firm is making a huge bet on software automation, doesn't matter the industry. (Legal, Insurance, Banking, Broker/Dealer - all have tasks that can and eventually will be automated)

Our clients see no need to pay for a low level person at the rate of $125 an hour when they can license software that works for 24 hours a day at a rate of >$10 an hour...its only a matter of time before staffing levels are adjusted

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vohod (May 19, 2017 - 10:16 am)

Automation gets you so far. Once clients learn what "mundane tasks" are done by firms for a kingly firm, the clients will in-source it to a team of Comm College paralegals managing a software system in Sioux Falls.

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3lol (May 19, 2017 - 11:30 am)

Much was made of the bump from 160k to 180k at the time, even though the vast majority of lawyers and law students (such as myself and probably most people here) will never be effected by it in the slightest. I don't understand the logic of the much heralded pay raise when there's probably 50 law students and 100 lawyers who would shackle themselves with the golden handcuffs for 160k or less. Is Jones Day or DLA Piper really concerned that they won't be able to attract "top talent" (with no legal work experience) for 160k, or is it just some lame shot at superficial prestige of paying higher?

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shuntiii (May 19, 2017 - 11:40 am)

It's a circle jerk signal to the client more than anything. If Jones Day is paying their associates 180k and you are paying 160k, it makes clients think you are an inferior firm.

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shuntiii (May 19, 2017 - 11:43 am)

Would love to know what they can/ will automate.

I have not done doc review in 7-8 years so technology may have advanced even more, but even back then we were "automating" a lot of stuff, in terms of using keywords and stuff to weed out non-responsive documents. By the time it reached the eyes of a junior associate at our firm, it had already been "reviewed" by software and reviewed again by cheaper doc review contractors. Maybe they can automate even more of this process.

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thirdtierlaw (May 19, 2017 - 1:19 pm)

E-discovery is making huge leaps forward in their software so they are likely nearing the point where they can cut out a larger chunk of the low-level doc reviewers. But everyone knew that was coming. The much bigger issue for these firms is in the transactional realm.

If companies start implementing a standard markup language on their contracts then a large number of transactional tasks associated with M&A can very easily be automated. Compliance issues become easier to manage as well. Hypothetically the end goal is being able to just tell the computer what you want to occur and it'll spit out a fully populated contract with no user intervention required. At that point, instead of needing a whole team of attorneys working on a project, you'd just need one person to review the results.

The Treasury department is working closely with one of my old professors to create this markup language. So the beginning stages are already in the works. Granted, even if they completed the markup language and made it mandatory on all filings, it'll still take a decade for companies to bring their old filings into compliance.

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