Furloughs Became Layoffs For Several Ice Miller Attorneys

By Aebra Coe
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Law360 (July 24, 2020, 9:01 PM EDT) -- Indianapolis-based law firm Ice Miller LLP has laid off more than 10 attorneys from multiple offices after furloughing them this spring amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to sources who spoke to Law360.

After furloughing a number of staff and attorneys in April, by the end of June the law firm had notified a portion of those furloughed attorneys that they would be laid off and had less than a week to leave, according to three sources with knowledge of the news who spoke to Law360 on the condition of anonymity.

Two of the three sources said that 11 attorneys were impacted by the layoffs and one said 13 were laid off.

All three sources raised concerns with Law360 about how the move impacted diversity at the firm. Of the attorneys laid off, five were attorneys of color, including four Black lawyers and one Hispanic lawyer, the sources all said.

"I think it's telling and numbers can show what a firm prioritizes," one said of the racial makeup of those laid off.

Representatives of Ice Miller did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Law360.

On the homepage of its website, Ice Miller highlights a statement regarding the firm's commitment to racial justice, which says that the firm is expanding its pro bono work on social justice reform, is engaging in anti-racist learning and is pledging $10,000 to the National Black Law Student Association.

"As a firm we stand in solidarity with our team members and colleagues of color and we remain committed to advancing equity and inclusion within our organization and our communities," the statement says.

This year's Law360 400 report found that Ice Miller was the 136th largest law firm in the U.S. as of the end of 2019, with 347 attorneys and 190 partners in the U.S. That was up from 329 attorneys in the previous year's report.

The firm has offices in Chicago, Columbus, Indianapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and DuPage County, Illinois.

Law360 was able to identify several associates whose profiles were removed from the law firm's website over the Fourth of July weekend. Those removed spanned a number of different offices, experience levels and practice groups.

Sources said that the attorneys who were laid off received little notice, were offered little in the way of assistance finding a new job, and received minimal severance.

"It was kind of a slap in the face," one person said.

Additionally, several sources said that even as the layoffs were taking place, the firm's remaining associates were offered bonuses.

Ice Miller was approved on April 10 for a loan of between $5 million and $10 million under the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program, government documents show.

--Editing by Emily Kokoll.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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