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Duane Morris Trims Office Staffers

Posted Feb 28, 2008 9:22 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Duane Morris has cut 26 of its 724 legal secretaries and file clerks, a move that is part of an overall trend of reducing the number of office staffers helping lawyers.

Duane Morris spokesman Joshua Peck confirmed the cuts in a conversation with the Daily Business Review. He said the move is part of a change in staffing ratios from two lawyers for each legal secretary to three lawyers for each secretary. Technology enables lawyers to do more work on their own, and “that has enabled us to become more lean,” he said.

Also cutting down on legal staffers is Hodgson Russ, a Buffalo-based law firm that laid off or did not replace several paralegals and secretaries in Boca Raton, Fla., says the Daily Business Review in an article reprinted in New York Lawyer.

Billl Brennan, a principal in legal consulting firm Altman Weil, said most law firms have a ratio of three lawyers to one secretary. He said a trend to reduce staffers has been taking shape over the last 10 years, but the economic slowdown is likely spurring firms that had been reluctant to act.

“I would bet law firms have known for some time that they did not need as many support staff,” he told the Review. “But it’s only when economic conditions become difficult that they have the support of the partners to implement those difficult decisions and cut staff.”

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