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Recessions, and Lay-Offs, and Hiring Freezes, Oh My!

November 2, 2022

There has been much talk of recession in the media of late and economists are torn as to whether we are already in the midst of a recession, or if there is one impending in the near future. As a specialized legal and accounting and finance recruitment firm, Forge Recruitment has been keeping a pulse on the economy for some time and maintaining regular conversations surrounding potential layoffs and staffing with our client partners and the candidates that we work with.

For the decision-makers within a law firm, making fiscally responsible decisions during uncertain times can be challenging.  Is it time for you to layoff employees? Should you freeze hiring efforts all together? How do you keep up with your existing clients’ demands with no assurance that the economy will not impact their ability to pay for your services? 

For employees in a law firm setting, that same uncertainty also rings true. Does my employer have the resources to maintain my employment? Am I a valuable asset to my employer?  Is the area of law I practice in on a downswing due to the economy? 

One common theme has emerged – lack of assurance.  Forge Recruitment recommends the below considerations:

What Employers Should Consider:

As we have witnessed in the past, one of the first reactions when in uncertain economic times is to scale back operations; it makes sense to cut costs and lay off staff.  The challenge, however, is not necessarily the lay off, but replacing those same roles after the economy restabilizes.  Even with a recession looming, there are still practice areas that are on the upswing (civil litigation, corporate law, family law, etc.). It may be a consideration to provide opportunities for staff to upskill and work on the overflow of projects from busier practice areas. Layoffs should only be a last resort. Consider who and how many professionals you lay off; they will need to be replaced in the future.

Strategic planning around your human resources is pivotal in these times and we recommend that hiring managers keep an eye on talent in the market (even when the doom and gloom of a recession is nearing) and ask, ‘is this professional capable of bringing in monies to the firm?’ ‘Is this potential candidate stronger than the bench of employees I have on currently?’ ‘Will this professional work to service my clients’ needs?’ By keeping an ‘ear to ground’ on the talent market, you will be in an advantageous position to bring on highly qualified talent that otherwise, may not have been available to you. 

What Employees Should Consider:

During tough economic times, the assumption is made that employment opportunities become scarce. To some degree, this is true, however, many organizations will take advantage of the economy to upgrade their current talent pool. We recommend always keeping an open mind to the job market (whether through actively applying to jobs, or passively listening to opportunities presented to you by a recruiter).  There is an immense amount of power in not ‘putting all your eggs in one basket.’ Expanding your professional network during these times could be the difference between employment or not.  With tools like LinkedIn, it is extremely easy to make connections with professionals within the space who can support you in a job search or mentorship opportunities.

Look to continuously upskill and assert yourself as a valuable asset to your employer. In many cases, the employees who ask for extra responsibility, volunteer to support with overflow of work, handle client interactions, and proactively keep busy are those that the employer will work harder to keep on board. 

To conclude, recessions happen; this does not mean that all things must come to a halt. With some minor adjustments in the short term, you can steer through upcoming challenges with grace and a sense of assurance.

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