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Baker & McKenzie to Lay Off 11% of Lawyers, Professionals in China

Posted Jul 8, 2009 6:56 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Updated: Baker & McKenzie plans to lay off 11 percent of its 350 lawyers plus professional staffers in China and Hong Kong.

Baker & McKenzie confirmed its plans in an e-mail to Bloomberg News and the ABA Journal. It plans to lay off a comparable number of secretarial and support staffers, the statement said. The firm has offices in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai.

“The current economic climate is proving very challenging for most businesses, including many of our clients,” Baker said in the statement. “It is difficult to predict the timing and pace of the recovery of the markets in which we operate in Asia.”

The statement notes specifically that "In Hong Kong and China, 11% of [Baker's] fee earners, together with a commensurate number of secretarial and support staff will be leaving those offices."

"These difficult measures are necessary to ensure our ongoing financial health in an increasingly competitive environment," the firm notes.

In April, Baker & McKenzie cut 38 lawyers and 86 paralegals and staff in its North American offices.

Some law firms, including DLA Piper, have already cut lawyers and staffers in Asia. But others are opening new offices in Hong Kong, including Proskauer Rose and London-based Ashurst, the story says.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. with more details from the firm's statement.

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