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Home Depot Lays Off an Estimated 17 In-House Legal Staff

Posted Feb 21, 2008 3:39 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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An unnamed source who reportedly was among those adversely affected says perhaps 17 in-house legal staff are included in Home Depot's layoff of 500 corporate employees late last month.

The downsizing involves 10 percent across-the-board cuts in departments throughout Home Depot's corporate headquarters, notes the Fulton County Daily Report.

"Some legal observers attributed the recent cuts in the legal department at least in part to a change in philosophy with the company's new general counsel, Jack A. VanWoerkom, hired in June 2007," the legal publication writes.

Although some call the approach "lawyer light," and contend that it includes what the Daily Report terms "cuts in compliance," a legal recruiter points out that Home Depot CEO Frank Blake is also a lawyer. Blake is "extremely bright" and presumably knows what he is doing, says Robert T. Graff III, managing partner of Major, Lindsey & Africa.

"I think it's more a shift in focus," Graff says of the layoffs, which Home Depot attributed to a downturn in the nation's housing market. "There's less growth and acquisition, and so less need for lawyers."

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