Preparing for Possible Layoff

I’ve heard a rumor that we may be merging with another law firm, and I am worried that my job might be downsized if the merger goes through. Is there anything I should be doing now to prepare myself for a possible layoff?

Legal careers involve a fair amount of work-related pressure as it is. That stress becomes even more acute with rumors of a possible layoff. But don’t automatically jump to conclusions: A lot of change naturally occurs around any merger. At the same time, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared and have things in order — just in case you’re on the short list. Here are a few things to keep in mind when the air is thick with rumors of a possible layoff.

  1. Keep Calm and Carry On
    It’s all too easy to get caught up in the what-ifs and hearsay. During this period of not knowing, don’t assume the worst and mentally check out. More than ever, you need to work hard and do your best. Use this time to your advantage by stepping up your game: Show senior management your dedication to the job, offer to help coworkers with their caseloads and demonstrate that you’re a committed team player. These are some of the ways to ensure you’re on the “safe list” in case there’s a layoff.

  2. Get Ready to Move
    Though you shouldn’t assume the worst, you should also have a Plan B — or even C — in your pocket. As preparation, researchcurrent trends in the legal field. Then dust off your resume and make sure it’s updated to reflect your most recent skill set, responsibilities and accomplishments. Consider reaching out to a recruiter who specializes in the legal field; he or she can provide insight into available lawyer jobs and current employment trends, as well as review your resume and suggest ways to better target it for today’s legal careers.

  3. Get Back in Touch
    Make sure your network is strong in case you need to leverage it. Re-establish communication with professional acquaintances you’ve gained over the years, which is never bad advice for all legal careers and job situations. You never know when a casual lunch with a former coworker can turn into a job opportunity.

  4. Make Your Presence Known
    Besides in-person networking, get yourself noticed online. There’sLinkedIn, of course, but you should also check out social networking sites especially for those in the legal profession, such asMartindale.com Connected andLawLink. Make sure your profile or homepage is complete, up to date and compelling. Then, log on regularly to participate in forums, stay on top of trends and communicate with other members.

  5. Take Time to Take Stock
    Rumor of a possible layoff is a great time to evaluate at all the legal careers out there. Ask yourself:

Think about worked well and what didn’t in your past and current lawyer jobs, and figure out what truly makes you feel fulfilled. Since you work for a law firm now, you may want to consider corporate counsel or private practice in the future. In answering these questions, perhaps you’ll find that it’s time to change firms, specialties or even your career path.

The steps you take right now can help you keep your job, and the preparation can soften the blow of being let go —if  that comes to pass. Regardless of what happens, introspection and planning are good exercises for all professionals — no matter where they are in their legal careers.