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Latest Layoffs: Skadden Staff Attorneys & 65 Akin Gump Staff, Among Others

Posted Jan 20, 2009 5:17 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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The ax reportedly has fallen on attorneys and staff at four more well-known law firms, in addition to three that made layoffs news last week.

According to Above the Law, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom gave pink slips on Friday to a significant number of its staff attorney workforce, citing economic conditions. No associate attorneys were cut, however, according to an apparent internal Skadden memo included in the ATL report.

"The staff attorney position was created and designed to absorb peak demands. The economic turmoil has required us to reassess that level of support, nevertheless more than half of our staff attorneys remain with the firm," the memo states. According to unidentified "tipsters" cited in the ATL post, Skadden is giving the staff attorneys the firm cut from its roster eight weeks of severance pay, and those affected are based primarily in New York and Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, as a number of other law firms laid off attorneys after the economy plunged last fall, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld didn't. But the Washington, D.C.-based litigation and regulatory powerhouse did rescind offers to some incoming summer associates last year, and now it is laying off 65 staff members, according to a National Law Journal article reprinted by New York Lawyer (reg. req.).

"We wanted to get our staff-to-lawyer ratio to match up with the economy," spokeswoman Sheila Turner tells the legal publication. She says the staff reductions are spread throughout the firm's U.S. offices. The almost 1,000-attorney firm does not plan to lay off any lawyers, she notes.

Indianapolis-based Ice Miller is also laying off some staff, reports the Indiana Lawyer Daily.

It also appears that some attorneys across the pond at U.K.-based Denton Wilde Sapte will not be employed there long. The firm reports that it may lay off as many as 80 individuals, about half of whom are expected to be "fee-earners," reports Legal Week.

All of these reductions follow news last week of layoffs at two well-known Philadelphia law firms and Boston-based Foley Hoag.

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