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Law Practice Management

After Layoffs, Some Law Firms Have 1 Staffer for Every 4 Lawyers

Posted Mar 2, 2009 12:45 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Cuts in legal support staff ranks have pushed the staffing ratios at some law firms to one support staffer for every four lawyers.

The Connecticut Law Tribune and the Philadelphia Business Journal have stories on the change that is forcing associates to take on more legal research and other tasks once handled by paralegals and law librarians.

David Sturgess, managing partner of Updike, Kelly & Spellacy in Hartford, told the Connecticut Law Tribune that his firm has a ratio of one support staffer for every three lawyers after layoffs, but he knows of some firms with 1-4 ratios.

Law firm consultant Peter Giuliani told the Law Tribune that many of the staff cuts are being made in departments handling information technology, billing or other areas that can be outsourced. In New York, he said, many law firms made significant layoffs in their law libraries.

For the most part though, firms aren't cutting secretaries, he told the Law Tribune. “In my experience, secretaries are usually a protected class,” he said.

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