It used to be that Corporate America would not do the dastardly deed at holiday time. That is to say, layoffs would be put off until after Christmas. That way, even though you knew it might be coming, you could "act as if" and have a supposed normal holiday.
Nowadays, it seems as though firms are purging and scouring as fast as they can, holidays be damned. Today, Reed Smith, a national firm, announced the layoffs of 115 staff members. Wow. All I can say is if you think it can't happen to you, think again. Legal Intelligencer has posted a list of major firms that have laid off staff and attorneys in the past couple of months. If you think that your firm is safe from any layoffs, be sure you watch for the signs. These include:
Are partners leaving? Have bonuses been slashed? Raises delayed? Travel canceled? Continuing legal education budgets cut? Overtime cut? Offices subleased? Hiring freezes in effect? Office supplies scarce? Holiday party canceled? Associate hires delayed? Branch offices closed? If these or other signs are in effect at your firm, don't bury your head in the sand. The next move could be layoffs.
Remember that firms will cut staff not only in areas that do not have as much work as before but in order to conserve cash flow in an era where lines of credit may not be as easily attainable as in past years. So even if you are in a department that looks as though it's doing well, have that resume ready. The one thing about a recession is that it's the great unknown. And because nothing is predictable, preparing yourself to face change is one of the most important skills you can acquire.