New York Times on White and Case

If you haven’t yet had your fill of reading about the sea change that’s running through the legal profession, you should read “A Study in Why Major Law Firms Are Shrinking” by Alan Feuer, published in the June 5 edition of the NY Times. Among the myriad points of interest within the article — I won’t attempt a summary — are references to blogs, where the aftermath of the lay-offs got dealt with, particularly and what the Times describes as “the wildly popular” (what a great name).

From everything I’ve read, firms in Canada are laying off fewer associates and partners by far. Or am I reading the wrong sources? Do you think that means “lawmageddon” is simply delayed here?

We can hope that out of what’s pretty close to a literal decimation there is a transformation of the profession — a sea change of the sort that the Bard imagined in Ariel’s song when he coined the phrase:

Full fathom five thy father lies,
Of his bones are coral made,
Those are pearls that were his eyes,
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change,
into something rich and strange…


  1. That things are worse ‘down south’ is undeniable. Everything I’ve heard from ‘big law’ friends in Canada is that budgets are down, some layoffs are taking place, but ‘so far, so good’. Especially considering we’re in a down global economy.

    While the question you pose of a delayed effect is probably the bigger unknown, Canadian firms might just be better positioned. We’ve been told that Canadian firms are less leveraged (US firms 5:1 Partner to Associates, CDN firms 2:1 to 3:1); and if true, that would mean we’re already closer to the coveted ‘cylinder’ model. Also, consider the fact that Canada has half the number of lawyers per capita (more work to go around), and that our economy has generally been better off than in the US (mildly better?).

    The factors would seem to add up, as long as we compare things to the US situation.

  2. Thanks for the kind words! We don’t get too much data on layoffs from the Great White North, but we do keep an eye on the market. I think the only time we’ve addressed it was in one of our recaps a few weeks ago with information that you guys probably already knew from the National Post.

  3. The CBC yesterday reported that Bay Street was expecting a revenue drop of 30%+ this year.

    The layoffs have already begun. A few lawyers here, a few lawyers there. Mostly it is first year associates quietly being given their walking papers. It is definitely not as bad as the United States, but that is by no means comforting.

    Those most affected will be prospective articling students, as the number of positions declines dramatically. Hire-back rates have reportedly dropped from 80-100% to 25%.

    I predict that the hiring chill (it’s not quite a freeze – yet), when fully resolved, will mean an end to articling as a Law Society requirement.