People have misused the word “decimate” for so long it’s entirely acceptable to use to describe any substantially destructive event. But, technically, the term describes a coldly applied 10 percent reduction. To be more specific, a Roman military punishment where a unit would draw lots and one-tenth of the soldiers would be executed to teach the whole unit a lesson for being involved in the failure of their officers.
Which sort of makes decimation the first layoff.
Fenwick & West — number 66 in the last Am Law rankings — issued its own little Order 66 and started offing associates and staff today. And according to Bloomberg, we’re looking at about 10 percent:
After an “assessment of current and anticipated future demand,” the firm made the decision to reduce its workforce, firm chair Richard Dickson said in an email viewed by Bloomberg Law sent Tuesday afternoon. The reductions will affect “just under” 10% of the firm’s professionals, he said.
We believe in rounding and “just under” means it’s 10 percent. The firm knows these cuts round up too, or it would’ve written “just over 9 percent” because it just sounds way less horrible when it’s in single-digits.
Law firms are, by and large, reporting decent profits and slow but steady improvements in demand. Unfortunately, there are outliers and for the past couple years, those outliers tend to have deep ties to the tech sector. Fenwick fits smack in the middle of that cohort.
Which, for anyone keeping score, was also a Roman military unit.
Fenwick & West Laying Off Nearly 10% of Attorneys, Staff [Bloomberg Law News]
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.
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