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Redundancy: moving past the stigma

Redundancy: moving past the stigma

Redundancy is often perceived as tarring the reputation of both lawyers and law firms, but with the right approach any stigma can be left far behind when new opportunities arise, writes Sarah…

Redundancy is often perceived as tarring the reputation of both lawyers and law firms, but with the right approach any stigma can be left far behind when new opportunities arise, writes Sarah Sharples in this week's Lawyers Weekly.

With no one able to predict when the credit crunch might ease, many lawyers are facing concerns about the stability of their employment. Law firms have already made a number of redundancies, both locally and internationally, as well as freezing salaries and offering options for flexible work.

See Lawyers Weekly issue 432,or come back next week for the full article.

Not the weakest link

Practice areas such as banking and finance, M&A, corporate and real estate have been affected by the economic climate, and lawyers of all experience levels have not been immune from a slowdown in work.

Matt Harris has witnessed this in his role as a consultant at Taylor Root, having met with junior and senior lawyers who have been made redundant simply due to cost-cutting measures. He says lawyers are anxious about the reflection that a redundancy has on their capabilities.

"I think people should be up-front about the fact that they have been made redundant. I don't think people should be afraid about that. I certainly don't get the sense that there is any stigma attached to it.

"This is a time where it's a common problem faced by lots of people," he says.

Peter Buck, consultant at First Counsel, echoes Harris' advice, emphasising that lawyers should be mindful of the definition of a redundancy.

"I don't think it's a signal to the market necessarily that there is something wrong with you or your skills. What, technically speaking, redundancy [means] is your job or the role that you are playing is no longer required by the business for whatever reason. It's not a reflection on you," he says.

Graham Seldon, founder of professional recruitment services company Seldon Gill Consulting, also believes that employers will understand that 2009 was the year when job security was low. He says, however, that employees can ensure their reputation is protected.

"If you are made redundant, the best thing to do is to get some letter or acknowledgment at that time which clearly states that you were made redundant because your practice group was closed down or the office that you worked in was closed down or it was a cost-cutting initiative so you can overcome that ... market perception that only people who are underperforming are losing their jobs," he says.

Where to from here...

See Lawyers Weekly issue 432, or come back next week for the full article.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

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Redundancy: moving past the stigma
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