Tips For Laid-Off Lawyers

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Add Bernard Madoff to the long list of other factors pushing corporations to beef up their compliance teams.

Amid a dearth of deal-related work, blue-chip law firms are laying off attorneys in unprecedented numbers. Meanwhile, compliance is shaping up as one of a few bright spots in the wake of the Madoff scandal, says American Lawyer's AmLaw Daily.

Recruiters at a recent New York City Bar Association job-fest suggested that out-of-work lawyers also consider other in-demand specialties such as bankruptcy, insurance and intellectual property.

Times are tough for lawyers. This week, Blank Rome LLP and Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, two big Philadelphia-based firms with national client bases, announced job cuts. And firms are no longer disguising layoffs as performance-related dismissals.

Because mass layoffs of lawyers are so common now, recent casualties "should not take their firing as the scarlet letter it might have been seen as in years past," AmLaw Daily said, citing panelists at the Bar Association event. The Labor Department reports that the U.S. legal sector lost 33,500 jobs since the recession began in December 2007.

Recruiters gave the lawyers the same advice that they give bankers and other financial professionals looking for work. Job seekers were told to be active in tracking down specific job leads, emphasize recent experience on their resumes and highlight how they helped bolster their firm's bottom line. On the other hand, relying on recruiters is less useful now for attorneys who lack a book of business, said lawyer-career coach Diane Costigan.

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