It’s one thing for a firm to see profits drop 3-5-6% coming off some really good years. But if you see partners losing 40-50% of their retirement savings or the values of their houses drop as a result of economic conditions, then you’re faced with a fundamentally different situation.
They start bringing unhappiness into the workplace, there’s a loosening of the bonds of firm loyalty, and you start to see some bad behavior.
You get a pervasive unease that’s not good in any working environment.
— Allen Fagin, former chair of Proskauer Rose, who led the firm through the Great Recession, in comments given to Law.com on the what happens when the vibes get bad in Biglaw due to the state of the economy. Faced with pessimistic partners and associates living in fear of layoffs, Fagin said he sometimes felt like the firm’s “psychiatrist in chief.” Luckily, to our knowledge, the vibes in Biglaw aren’t anywhere near this bad… yet.
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.