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After Layoffs and Belt-Tightening, Law Firms Are Seeing Light at the End of the Tunnel

Posted Mar 1, 2011 1:22 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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At Cobb Cole—where five attorneys were laid off or left of their own accord last year—the attorney roster decreased to 24, and there were staff layoffs as well.

At Chiumento Guntharp & Selis, the number of lawyers working at the firm was cut from seven to three in 2009, and the firm also made staff layoffs that year, too.

Meanwhile, Rice & Rose, which had five attorneys a year ago, now has three, and the firm has shifted its practice focus to foreclosure defense and bankruptcy as the volume of real estate and transactional work dropped, reported the Daytona Beach News-Journal in a lengthy article detailing the recent travails of these and other Florida law firms coping with a difficult economy.

The article follows earlier news of a Florida Bar survey that paints a grim picture of what has been happening to practitioners throughout the state during the past two years.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, according to the newspaper:

A number of firms, including Cobb Cole, are solidly in the black thanks to their belt-tightening efforts and rejiggering of their practice focus. Others, such as personal injury shops, were fortunate to be in a line of work that wasn't hard-hit by the recession.

"We billed more hours in January than in any month last year, and November and December of last year were both up over the same months in the previous year," managing partner John Ferguson, who had to make layoffs in 2010 only a few months after he started in this role, tells the News-Journal. "We're headed in the right direction, which is wonderful."

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