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Goodwin Procter LLP is Conducting Stealth Layoffs using Gag Orders to Keep Fired Associates Silent

Goodwin Procter LLP is conducting stealth layoffs and trying to keep it under wraps by having affected associates sign confidentiality agreements.

Goodwin Procter, a Top 25 Law Firm Conducts Stealth Layoffs

Exact number of associates let go remains unclear.

Originally published; May 15, 2020

We knew this was going to start happening. Stealth layoffs are a Biglaw specialty and the economic upheaval surrounding COVID-19 is ripe for them. Above the Law is hearing from multiple insiders at the firm that over the last month or so, Goodwin Procter has been letting associates go.

They’ve already laid off staff members, and now it seems it’s cutting some associates from its payroll.

As a reminder, the firm made over a billion dollars in gross revenue last year — $1,330,176,000 to be precise — making it 22nd on the most recent Am Law 100.

Particularly prevalent during economic downturns, stealth layoffs allow firms to cut headcount without confirming that there were economic-based layoffs.

Rather than signal some perceived weakness, a firm tries to cut overhead without making a splash. So, they’ll give the associates X number of months/weeks to find a new job and the firm may even couch the reductions in performance review terms, making those let go doubt their lawyering skills.

Here is what we are hearing is happening at the firm. First it starts in dribbles. (Potentially identifying information of those laid off has been edited from tipster accounts.)

I heard Goodwin is emptying certain practice groups.

Have heard that Goodwin is making stealth associates layoffs.

Hey ATL, Tip regarding stealth layoffs at Goodwin Procter. In early April, Goodwin began laying off associates.

Which, is not enough to base a story on, but it is enough to start poking around. And, the tips just continued to pour in.

Hi, this is a tip on stealth lay offs done by Goodwin Procter. We know of at least 12 associates that were laid off.

I was a Goodwin associate and can confirm that Goodwin has been conducting stealth layoffs.

Just wanted to give a tip that Goodwin recently laid off a handful of associates, but did not provide much detail regarding the layoffs, including how many associates were let go (I’m hearing at least 10-20….).

The New York office had a firm-wide call where the firm…. communicated that some associates had been “counseled out” last week due to the anticipated reduction in revenue for the firm.

Those let go 12 weeks severance and healthcare benefits through September. For the time being, firm leadership on the call communicated that those who had been let go have been let go, and there are no further plans to let associates go or cut salaries.

Tip: Goodwin is conducting stealth layoffs for economic reasons. They are trying to keep it under wraps by having affected associates sign confidentiality agreements. They should be listed as a firm implementing layoffs.

If history shows us the way forward, now is the time to be evaluating your relative position within this quickly changing marketplace. Robert Kinney and Daniel Roark – Kinney Recruiting

And then yesterday this account was posted on Reddit:

Before the firm decided to stealth me, I received consistently positive performance evaluations and was given positive informal feedback.

My hours were always a healthy margin above the billable hours target and were consistent with that of my colleagues.

One day, very suddenly, I was told that I had performance issues and had three months to leave.

The conversation made no sense to me, and I spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure out what I had done wrong – thinking I had inadvertently offended someone or made a giant mistake – until a coworker confided in me that the same thing happened to them.

Through the grapevine I was able to figure out that this is happening throughout the firm, and it wasn’t just me.

And oof, that is basically a textbook account of stealth layoffs. I have nothing but the deepest sympathy for anyone that finds themselves going through it. And let me reassure you — it isn’t you.

When reached for comment a spokesperson for the firm said:

In early April, we completed our annual mid-year review cycle for our non-partner lawyers (Goodwin operates on a September fiscal year-end.) As a matter of policy, we do not comment on our performance management process.

Which is, again, textbook.

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