An article this week by the Legal Intelligencer citing possible associate layoffs in the corporate, mergers & acquisitions and securities arena failed to mention the trickle down effect on paralegals. Surely, anyone with just a few years of experience recalls the nasty era of 2001-2004 or so of deep purges and scourages affecting thousands of corporate transactional paralegals.
With this dip in the economy and a potential credit crunch, some law firm leaders are predicting layoffs in what have been the most lucrative practice groups over the past four or so years -- structured finance, real estate and corporate mergers and acquisitions.
Others say an economic downturn is an opportunity for bankruptcy and litigation practices and corporate attorneys will just adapt.
So could the effects of this economic downturn -- including the thousands of layoffs in the subprime lending market -- mean future layoffs of law firm associates? Well, it's a touchy topic. The article, posted on law.com failed to mention future layoffs for associates also means future layoffs for paralegals. While the Pollyannists who in the last downturn predicted an opportunity for bankruptcy and litigation practices predicted the same opportunity for this upcoming downturn, no one seems to realize that those corporate paralegals trained in M&A are most likely NOT trained in bankruptcy or litigation.
It would seem that what we preach at Estrin LegalEd ad nauseum - Get thyself cross-trained and save thyself some heartache - needs to be screeched from the mountain top yet one more time. No one wants a repeat of the past recent downturn. If you are a corporate paralegal resting on the laurels of the gold rush of the past 4 years, it's time to get yourself cross-trained in a recession proof practice specialty. Trust me. Waiting for the other shoe to fall could mean months and months with no shoes at all. Start reviving those skills outside of corporate and start now!