All In the Name of Justice – Layoffs in NY But Good News for Michigan

It’s getting crazy out there.  Legal Week, (the British top rag) reports that Fried Frank announced yesterday that it’s cutting 73 staffers including paralegals in its New York office and DC offices. That’s 10% of its 730 staffer headcount in New York and Washington, D.C. including paralegals, librarians and part-time assistants.

A spokesperson told Legal Week that the lay-offs have not come on the back of the economic crisis but is rather a part of a two-year efficiency review. (Are you serious? A two year review?  To find out you’re overstaffed?  And the cuts come now, while we’re deep in the throes of economic crisis? But it’s not about that?  Gee. I would have loved to have had that consultant’s job.) All of the affected staff members were informed of the decision yesterday.

Previous effects of the review have led to the consolidation of departments that are now run on a departmental basis rather than on an office-to-office basis. This includes the associate development department, marketing, finance as well as information services. Amid the cuts, the marketing and finance departments have been expanded as a result of the review.

On the other hand, great news for Kalamazoo, Michigan! The Kalamazoo Gazette reports that the city has landed a new tenant, Business Intelligence Associates who is seeking to add 250 attorneys and paralegals over the next five years, is starting with 80 new positions now.  The company chose Kalamazoo, Michigan over New York to launch its new offices. BIA, which manages electronic data for corporations facing litigation, is growing because companies are producing more electronic data, such as e-mail messages, and because of requirements that they keep those data for longer.

"To a large extent, our business grows as technology grows," said Brian Schrader, president of BIA. "As corporations create more data, they need our services more." Although some of that work could be done more cheaply overseas, he said, BIA wanted to keep as much of it in the United States as it could. 

I can see why Kalamazoo is so much cheaper: salaries, housing, overall overhead is obviously a fraction of what it costs in New York.  BIA, meanwhile, currently has 70 employees. It will create 251 new jobs in the Kalamazoo area over the next five years. Those jobs will have an average weekly wage of $933, much, much less than you’d have to pay for similar jobs in New York. Those new, direct company jobs are predicted to create an additional 348 spin-off jobs in the community.

Maybe those 73 folks who just got laid off in New York can transfer to Kalamazoo filling over 90% of the openings for BIA in one quick move.  While the money is not the same, at least, they’d have a much less stressful life.  There’s something to be said about that.