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Dechert Gives Pink Slip to 72 Staffers

Posted Dec 16, 2008 4:04 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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In a move apparently initially kept secret even from the attorneys affected, Philadelphia-based Dechert laid off 72 staff members throughout the country.

That amounts to about 12.5 percent of the 1,045-attorney international law firm's 570 United States administrative staff, reports the Legal Intelligencer in an article reprinted in the Am Law Daily.

An unnamed firm spokesperson tells the legal publication that the cuts were made proportionately throughout the firm's 11 U.S. offices, and that the layoffs were necessary to "operate more efficiently and address the overcapacity we have." There are presently no plans to lay off any attorneys or additional staff, she says.

At least some of the lawyers whose secretaries were axed apparently weren't told in advance of the layoffs, reports Above the Law.

"The firm laid off 13 U.S. associates in its finance and real estate practice in March and then later gave that group the option of taking temporary positions in other practice groups," the Legal Intelligencer recounts. "Further attorney layoff rumors swirled around the firm in October, but chairman Barton J. Winokur adamantly denied them, saying some structured finance attorneys were moved into other practice areas."

Earlier ABAJournal.com coverage:

Dechert Chair Calls Layoff Rumors ‘Bull,’ Says Firings Performance-Related

Stealth Layoffs: That Gentle Nudge to the Door

Law Firms Switch Idle Lawyers to Pro Bono Work

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