As Layoffs Loom, RIM’s Chief Legal Officer Steps Down

There goes another one — RIM announced today that Chief Legal Officer Karima Bawa will soon be leaving the company. This is RIM’s second major departure in as many weeks, with RIM sales head Patrick Spence leaving the ailing smartphone maker last Wednesday.

At the time, sources pointed to audio electronics company Sonos as his likely landing spot, though neither Spence nor Sonos have officially commented on the situation.

Unlike Spence, who reportedly jumped ship after being passed over for the company’s vacant COO spot (Sony Mobile EVP Kristian Tear eventually got the job), Bawa’s situation seems much less contentious. After spending nearly twelve years with the company (two of which were in her current spot), she’s finally looking to retire.

According to Reuters, Bawa’s departure was no surprise — she apparently revealed her desire to leave months in advance, and will be sticking around long enough to get her successor up to speed.

Still, a loss is a loss, and if recent reports are to be believed there are plenty more to come. Rumblings of a new round of layoffs have making the rounds lately, with the Financial Post reporting yesterday that nearly 6,000 employees are said to be on the proverbial chopping block.

RIM laid off 2,000 employees as part of a drastic cost cutting measure in July 2011 which acccounted for 11% of the company’s total workforce at the time. If these latest layoffs indeed come to pass, RIM will (for better or worse) be smaller than it has been in years. The Waterloo-based company needs to put as much of their effort as possible into crafting their forthcoming BlackBerry 10, and it remains to be seen whether or not this new, lean RIM is up to the task. Their early focus on luring developers to the platform with developer-friendly hardware and tools was a smart one, but market share shrinking and a launch window that could put it up against stiff competition, RIM can’t really afford for it to be anything other than a homerun.