When this article caught my attention this morning, Mass Layoffs at Heller Ehrman, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Could it get any worse for our Heller friends?” Unfortunately, the answer turned out to be “Yes”:

At least 100 Heller Ehrman employees were laid off on Friday, without receiving the 60 days’ wages required by federal law or accrued vacation due under California law, leaving even those remaining expressing confusion and concern.

Heller staffers and attorneys arriving at work Friday received one of two e-mails, either notifying them that they had been laid off, effective immediately, or that the firm would be retaining their services for the time being. Many said they were surprised by the e-mails and frustrated that there wasn’t more warning. The e-mails did not address whether employees would be paid for accrued vacation or other wages owed to them under federal law.

Law firms are not immune to the ups and downs of business cycles or bad management. Companies go under. Companies merge and there are redundant employees. Folks get laid off. Yet, there is always a right way and a wrong way of doing things.

  • Being honest with employees – RIGHT!
  • Promising not to leave before all staff members are placed with new jobs – RIGHT!
  • Having a CMO candidate show up at the partner retreat where the current CMO is making a presentation – WRONG!
  • Walking out the door with cash while the staff are left with no vacation days paid – WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!!

With that, I’d also like to give a shout out to our friends over at Heller Highwater. On Friday, the cruise director received a lovely pink notice via e-mail along with 100 other colleagues.

Heller Drone, my hat is off to you and your kind. You are one class act!