Law Firm Lifeboat: What to Do if Your Firm is About to Fold

By Jason Beahm on March 18, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Yet another BigLaw firm is going down. Howrey has announced plans to dissolve. Yoss LLP, one of South Florida's largest law firms, is also closing. Which brings up an interesting question:

What should you do if you're at a firm that's about to go under? How will you know when things are on the brink? First, watch out if partners suddenly start leaving the firm or if rumors begin spreading that another firm is going to buy or rescue your firm.

If your BigLaw firm is going under, you should do what's best for yourself. But what is best for yourself in such a difficult situation? A few useful points from am Am Law article after interviewing attorneys from firms that sank:

1. Forget loyalty and be realistic. Scott Andrews, former associate at Heller Ehrman was "in a little bit of denial," though deep down, he "knew Heller was doomed." So Andrews jumped ship to another firm one month before Heller closed. "People at Heller trickled out for a long time, and those of us who had a strong belief in the firm stayed," he says. "That caused a lot of people to end up jobless, whereas they might have found something had they gone out earlier. It's hard to find a job when everyone else is looking."

2. Don't be afraid to ask what's going on. Ask partners directly what is happening with the firm " is the time to swallow your nervousness and have that conversation with the partner," says Christopher Lewis, former partner at Thacher Proffit & Wood, Am Law reports. Being informed could make or break your future.

3. Start networking. Your network is your best chance to land another job. Make a list of all of the contacts that you have and start contacting them.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to focus on your well being and career success.

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