Lawyer Layoffs? Planning Beyond Finances

Part 2 in a series.

Finances are only part of the action plan when layoffs are looming. Perhaps more important is getting your network up and going.

What’s that? You have no network? Oh, pish tosh! You do, but you call them friends and acquaintances. You may think they wouldn’t be willing to help you. For now, don’t worry about that. Instead, start to make a conscious list of people you know outside your firm. Include:

  • Firm alumni who have moved on;
  • Classmates from college and law school;
  • Outside counsel you’ve worked with;
  • Bar association acquaintances;
  • Family and friend connections,
  • People you worked for in college or law school; and
  • People from any hobbies you have, like the bike club or book group.

Make sure you have their email (personal and work, if you can get it), mobile number, etc. Save this in a document or spreadsheet, or on your PDA, if you (and not the firm) own the PDA. When you’re getting the bad layoff news, your computer access is probably being cut off, so most likely you won’t get a chance to collect all that data then. Do it now! It’s the end of the year, so you have a marvelous excuse to have your admin help you update your contacts list.

And since it is approaching the height of the holiday season, there will be lots of parties. Go to as many as possible. Seriously. If you’ve done pro bono work for an organization, be sure to get an invite to their holiday bash, should they have one for sponsors and such. If you have a spouse or significant other, go to their holiday shindig. Go to bar association stuff. Heck, go to homeowners’ association stuff, they’re your neighbors. Be pleasant, be open and interested in people, ask them what they do, whether job or hobby. Collect business cards by the bushel, if you can. As in, “oh, I’d love to get coffee with you in the new year, let me get your card and I’ll give you a call.”

Now is also the time to start collecting writing samples. Any document you had a hand in drafting, get a copy of it. Doesn’t matter if it’s electronic or hard copy, just get it. Put your writing samples in a place outside your office, like a personal jump drive or your home office.

Next time, what to do with all those spiffy connections you’ve realized you have.

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