Practical Paralegalism extends its deepest sympathies to the 16 staff members, mostly legal secretaries, including some with decades of service, abruptly laid off from several of Florida real estate firm Ruden McClosky’s offices last week. Although the firm’s paralegals are safe (for now), and the firm announced less than two weeks ago that it was growing and hiring associates, this pre-Christmas layoff of experienced and valued staffers has got to be a horrific blow to the morale of the remaining employees.

The layoffs were confined to administrative and support staff and did not include lawyers or paralegals, co-managing partner Carl Schuster said in a statement.

He said the layoffs were part of a strategic plan to move toward a standard, three-to-one lawyer-to-secretary ratio, lower expenses and boost profits.

“Ruden McClosky continues to implement changes that are in line with today’s law firm standards for best practices, which include maximizing efficiencies while enhancing the firm’s technological capabilities,” Schuster said. “We have taken steps to sustain the profitability of our offices across Florida.”

Although the terminated employees were given severance packages and health insurance coverage for undisclosed amounts and periods, they were only given enough time to pack up their desks after receiving the news – and then were immediately escorted from the premises.

Times are still tough for legal staffers nationwide, including these Florida secretaries who lost their incomes right before Christmas – and for those left behind at the firm, who will be trying to figure out how to shoulder the extra work, while wondering if they are next.


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