Last week, according to Bloomberg News, Latham & Watkins LLP, the fourth-largest U.S. law firm, made an announcement that they would be offering incoming lawyers $75,000 to take the year off.
Latham, which fired 190 lawyers and 250 staff last week, said it is pushing back the start date for all incoming lawyers by two months, and offering the compensation to those who wait a year to start work. To put this into perspective, lawyers at this firm traditionally earn $160,000 a year, so $75,000 is a nice lump sum.
I find this "paid not to work" scheme quite interesting. Does it exist for paralegals as well? Surely, there are many qualified paralegals out there that could also benefit from the paid year-off due to the recession. After all, paralegals are as necessary as lawyers for the smooth and efficient operation of a law office practice. I would be very interested in hearing feedback from anyone reading this blog whether they have been offered such compensation packages and in turn told to seek community or volunteer work. I'd also like to know if you have been laid off, if you were offered a severance package. Latham & Watkins is offering its fired lawyers six months in severance pay. Does anyone smell something brewing? I hope that's not another round of double-standard out there!
Finally, in what just might be a chance for America to really pursue a proper work/life balance, some work sectors are now considering a switch to a four day work week. Here, across the pond, this idea generally exists but an actual example has been set for others to follow in the UK and back in the US during the economic downturn.
According to Law.com, a major Yorkshire law firm here in the United Kingdom has instituted a four-day work week for more than 100 of its attorney and staff members as an alternative to making layoffs to deal with the poor economy. The new scheme will allow the firm to remain open throughout the standard work week by having individuals work reduced schedules on alternating days. It's a sure fire way to keep businesses up and running but in a more cost-effective manner that will only promote preservation.