Law Firms

731 Lawyers and Staff Laid Off Monday at Morgan Lewis, K&L Gates and White & Case

Updated: A stunning number of new names will soon be added to the law firm layoffs list after announcements today by three major firms—K&L Gates; Morgan Lewis; and White & Case—that they are cutting a total of 731 attorneys and staff.

That brings the total number of law firm layoffs at well-known law partnerships, in the 10-day period starting on Feb. 27, to close to 2,500.

White & Case, which is responsible for well over half of the cuts, plans to lay off about 200 lawyers and 200 staff, according to an internal memo first reported by Above the Law. The firm also plans to restructure its partnership and has asked some 60 percent of its incoming first-year associate class to defer their start dates until 2010.

“These measures follow a thorough, strategic review of our business, including discussions with our regional section heads, global practice leaders and office executive partners,” the memo provided to Above the Law states. “It is clear from this review that the deterioration of the global economy will continue to affect our clients and their demand for our services for the foreseeable future.” White & Case also provided the ABA Journal with a statement (PDF).

Meanwhile, Morgan Lewis & Bockius is eliminating a total of 216 positions, 55 lawyers and 161 staff members, reports according to an internal memo (PDF) that has been provided to the ABA Journal.

“Unfortunately, we have reached the point where we believe that the greatest good for the greatest number of our colleagues will be achieved by eliminating some positions,” the firm writes, “and bringing our overall numbers more in line with the realities of the present economic environment and what we believe will be the expectations of our clients in the future.”

The bad news began this morning with news from K&L Gates that the firm is eliminating 115 people—36 associates and 79 staff members—from its roster in its United States offices.

“In addition, six lawyer posts are being considered for redundancy in the London office,” writes P.J. Kalis, chairman and global managing partner at K&L Gates, on behalf of the firm’s management committee in an internal memo. Sent this morning, according to Above the Law, it expresses regret for the layoffs and notes: “Good people will be searching for jobs.”

Including the potential layoffs in London, the reductions represent 4.9 percent of the firm’s associates and 4.3 percent of its staff.

K&L Gates confirmed that the information on ATL is accurate, but declined to comment further.

The 731 layoffs today at K&L Gates, Morgan Lewis and White & Case follow numerous others at major law firms earlier this month. Most recently, both Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld (47 associates, 57 staff) and King & Spalding (37 attorneys, 85 staff) announced on Friday that they are cutting their rosters.

None of these five firms was included in an earlier “March mayhem” post that tallied just under 1,500 layoffs at well-known law firms announced between Feb. 27 and March 5.

And the layoffs continued on Tuesday, March 10, albeit at a somewhat less blistering pace. A total of four law firms let more than 200 lawyers and staff go, bringing the layoffs tally since Feb. 27 close to 2,700 by the end of the day. (A subsequent post gives the end-of-day March 10 round-up.)

Additional coverage:

Bloomberg: “White & Case, K&L Gates, Morgan Fire 291 Lawyers “

Last updated at 10:30 p.m. on March 10 to include information from subsequent post rounding up latest law firm layoffs.

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.