Given the endless whining and hand-wringing over the recent bump in biglaw associate starting salaries, one would think those managing partners would seek to avoid seasoning their piety with a splash of hypocrisy. Not so:

We just got off the phone with Paul Tvetenstrand, managing partner at Thacher Proffitt. As reported on Above the Law, his law firm today notified 24 associates in the real estate and structured finance groups that unless the market improves substantially, they will almost certainly be laid off in January. Also, first-year associates in those groups are being offered buyouts with four months of severance. He said there are about 280 associates in the firm. (Structured finance is the securitization of assets, from mortgages to credit cards.)

Tvetenstrand explained to us that those practice groups make up about 60% of the firm. Plus, “a good percentage of our structured finance practice is in the residential mortgage-backed securities area,” he says. That market, he notes, has hit a dead spot. “It’s unknown how long that is going to last.”

Given the slowness, he notes, “”it’s unfair for these associates to put their career on hold.” Tvetenstrand added that, where it was able to do so, the firm has transferred people to other departments. “We’re getting to the last measures here,” he said of the buyouts and potential layoffs.

What are partners doing? Marketing and retooling, says Tvetenstrand. “People are not idle and many of the partners are very busy.”

Apparently partners with decades of experience in and only in these fields with connections in and only in these fields are "busy" "retooling."

But the first-year associates who knew nothing about the fields a year ago but still retain everything they learned in law school and for the bar are apparently so stuck in their ways it would be "unfair" to keep them around.

Et tu, Thatcher? Does anyone really wonder why biglaw firms have a >70% attrition rate?