Tag Archive: public

Merger off, lawyers fired, and lawyers hired – Rational?

A major player in the IP field announced that its merger plans with another IP firm have been called off. The assertion is that there were conflicts issues with one major client that could not be resolved and the client would not waive the conflict. While I may be dubious about the veracity of this assertion, sitting on the outside, it does happen.

But, then the firm announces that "… the downturn in patent litigation persists, with fewer cases being filed and more settling earlier…. (C)ases coming in are smaller with tighter budgets and leaner staffing expectations…."  And this results in firings/terminations/layoffs (say it anyway you want, the people are gone) of lawyers and staff.  In other words, the troubled economy is still having its impact on law firms.

So far, so good. But, then the firm also announces that it sees an increase in patent prosecution, counseling and reexamination work, particularly in the electronics and software practice and the firm will hire first-year associates. Again, from the outside, it looks like the firm is firing experienced lawyers who get paid 3X and will hire first year associates who will get paid 1X. You fill in the numbers. When industry does this, it’s called "age discrimination." It may also be called "stupid" because it negatively impacts the morale of the organization … and you don’t build a loyal, cohesive and capable workforce by seeking the least expensive team members. Why couldn’t the firm offer the presumably lower paying jobs to the experienced folks? In this economy, they might not like it, but they’d rather stay employed and working with colleagues they know and like and trust. And, the organization will look like a caring place to work, making needed economic changes but also sensitive to the needs of its current work force.

Just seems to me to be a better way to do things.  And, at the very least, the PR ineptness of these announcements coming on the heels of one another is just astounding.

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Surgically remove lawyers

For the second day in a row, the WSJ ragged on lawyers. It’s front page headline says "How to Surgically Remove Lawyers From Hospitals" ….  Without reading more than the front page headline, one would think that lawyers are a problem for hospitals and need to be removed … and here’s how to do it.

But, when you turn to the Personal Journal section of the paper, the article talks about hospitals’ negligence and the fact that many deaths and serious injuries/illnesses are caused by the hospitals and their staffs after the patients enter for other maladies than that which resulted in death.

The writer states that some hospitals are admitting their negligence and approaching the patients and their families with apologies and financial offerings that make sense. Under such circumstances, of course, the patients don’t need to work with lawyers … and that’s one way of keeping lawyers out of the discussion. (There are other issues here from the perspective of the patient’s protection; that’s a subject for another time.)

The real reason for the lawyer is that the institution denies culpability and seeks to stonewall the injured party. What a novel idea — actually talk to the injured party, admit responsibility and seek to negotiate/mediate a solution acceptable to all parties.

That, however, is not the tone of the headline, nor the attitude of the newspaper. Too bad. Truth should be the standard, not paper sales. I should admit that the headline is not false, just conveys the wrong impression of the article’s content.

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