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BigLaw Laid Off More than 12,000 People in 2009, the Worst Year Ever

Posted Jan 4, 2010 7:55 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Last year was the worst year ever for layoffs at large law firms, but there is one bright spot in the statistics: The pace is slowing.

According to the blog LawShucks, 12,196 people were laid off at 138 large law firms tracked last year. In all, 4,633 lawyers and 7,563 staffers lost their jobs.

The bad news was concentrated in the first half of the year. Seventy-three percent of the year’s total layoffs had occurred by the end of March, and 88 percent had occurred by the middle of the year.

The top five law firms, in terms of total layoffs in 2009, were: DLA Piper, Allen & Overy, Latham & Watkins, White & Case, and Clifford Chance, according to the blog. The top five, in terms of lawyer layoffs alone, were Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, White & Case, Linklaters, and Latham & Watkins.

Despite the layoff slowdown, LawShucks isn’t optimistic. It expects “a particularly aggressive round of performance-related (aka ‘stealth’) layoffs in the coming months as annual-review season heats up.”

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