Cleary Gottlieb has made all its paralegals in London redundant.

The US firm confirmed it was getting rid of the paralegal team, and won’t get any more.

Until a few weeks ago, Cleary ran a recruitment page on its website for paralegal candidates who were "detail-oriented, have excellent organizational ability and strong written and oral communication skills". But that page has now been replaced with a much sadder one. "Cleary Gottlieb's London office no longer has an active Paralegal recruitment program", it states.

A source said the redundancy of the paralegals was handled less than brilliantly, with trainees "expected to pick up their work after an hour of handover".

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Cleary's London offering has been thinned out at several levels. Last year the firm lost a quarter of its office after more than 26 lawyers quit. In recent weeks, said a source, seven associates have left. "Morale is rock bottom", they claimed, "the atmosphere is toxic".

“We confirm that we have made three paralegals redundant in our London office", said a spokesman for Cleary. "This was regrettable but followed a 9 month review of work patterns that indicated that there was no longer the same level of demand for their services as had historically existed". 

"Those services are now being provided by a combination of our junior administrative staff", and, "where it helps to provide additional training in areas such as court work, trainee solicitors".

The assertion that seven associates had recently left did “not tally" with Cleary's figures, he said, and while the London office does have four fewer associates than this time last year, "we understand our attrition rates to be in line with the market”.

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Comments

Xinhua 17 May 19 09:11

Cleary is absolutely brutal. They will boot you out at a drop of a hat. The partners are all utter weapons. Think very carefully about going there as a lateral hire, or as an NQ Associate.  The last paycheque may well be your last. Awful people.

Anonymous 17 May 19 10:04

The office is clearly not performing well financially and needs to cut costs. You don’t solve that by booting out some of the lowest paid employees - you solve that by booting out underperforming capital markets partners!

Not from Cleary 17 May 19 10:06

Surely they need to give you adequate notice before they "boot you out at a drop of a hat"? Xinhua by name, Xinhua by nature methinks.

Anonymagic 17 May 19 10:34

How sad. Hopefully the paralegaling experience at a prestigious white shoe firm (as Cleary is) will now be at least helpful to those booted paralegals in finding TCs!

Anonymous with a source 17 May 19 10:49

Apparently it was all led by an 'efficiency expert' brought in from KPMG who had all the emotional intelligence of a stone and even less proper understanding of what the paralegals actually did...

Anonymous 17 May 19 11:21

That KPMG efficiency expert needs to take a look at some of the london partnership!  

Anonymous 17 May 19 12:17

I went for an interview at Clearys for an NQ position a few years ago, having been offered a job at the firm I actually wanted to work at the evening before. I was interviewed by a turd (there is no better way to describe him). He spent the duration trying to make himself feel clever and me feel stupid, in between boasts about how tough the culture was (that someone would throw a phone at my head in a high stress moment was marketed to me as a plus). Given the aforementioned job offer, I spent the interview inwardly grinning about how glad I was not to need a job there.

Anon and on and on 17 May 19 14:09

Absolutely bizarre decision, and is more likely due to a shaky financial performance rather than "efficiency". Also a bit insulting that whatever spokesperson contacted from Cleary thought it was remotely believable that it's also only three Paralegals who have been booted. Remuneration of three paralegals would be pennies even in comparison to the salaries of the next lowest paid legal professionals i.e. Trainees/ and NQs, and image wise, I'd argue it'd be more beneficial to pay three paralegals rather than to fire the whole lot. Why not axe underperforming Partners who can afford to not be paid a million for a month before speedily jumping across to the next shop. Or if they wanted to actually be discreet, gradually decrease the trainee intake from 15 to 12/10 in future 2022/2023 intakes for a greater saving and spare the backlash (and tears)?

Works at CGSH 17 May 19 14:46

My comment was deleted on Legal Cheek so I thought I'd put it here: "As per other comments on ROF about this story, Cleary Gottlieb is a sweaty hellhole. Almost everything about the attitude and morale at the office is rotten, including but not limited to: deadwood partners who collect millions and do literally f*ck all; psychotic overworked and uber-stressed senior associates who throw objects at you when you don't reply to their email fast enough; non-existent office social life; HR that doesn't care and doesn't listen; insane workloads for everyone junior handed out with fake/artificial deadlines, etc. etc. The fact they now sacked ALL of the paralegals that were helping trainees out in shouldering all the work tells you volumes. When i was offered the TC I thought I won the jackpot. Big brand, good trainee pay, huge whack on qualification etc. Can't believe how naive I was. I'm typing this comment in a toilet stall as I've been told off for being on the phone at my desk and sometimes I like to nap here when I have done an all nighter and am falling asleep in front of my screen. With the paralegals gone there will be a lot more of those I'm afraid"

Clarification master 17 May 19 14:47

"Last October the firm lost a quarter of its office after an entire team of more than 26 lawyers quit." -- this is incorrect. Whilst it is true that the entire reg team left, the 26 lawyers came from a variety of different teams 

Anonymous 17 May 19 17:49

...they can always get a job at ulaw (tutor or even centre director) with their 'real world experience'....

fES 20 May 19 09:55

If this is about the financial performance of the office, then this decision is hardly going to nudge the needle. As noted above, you'd need to look to the more senior end of the office to do anything meaningful in that regard. However, I've long suspected that technological advances were a threat to paralegals and if Cleary have identified that its three paralegals are underutilised and can go, then I'm not massively surprised. When I worked for a Magic Circle firm the department I worked in didn't have paralegals, in fact I can't recall many that did (perhaps that's changed). Either way, some of the comments on here seem to stray somewhat from the story: large US firm lets go of three paralegals in its London office.

Stephanie-Francis 22 May 19 13:19

When I deaprted in 2015, they were penny pinching then. The way they have treated the Paralegals is truly disgusting. It's beleived they also paid them statutory redundancy, no more than 12 weeks pay).