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Sidley Axes 229; 12-Day Tally of Law Firm Layoffs Tops 3,000

Posted Mar 12, 2009 12:54 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Updated: There was a seeming lull yesterday in the ongoing deluge of law firm layoffs announcements. But as the clock ticked today, the pace began picking up significantly.

Near the end of the day today came word from the Chicago Tribune that Sidley Austin has laid off 89 lawyers and 140 staff members in the firm's United States offices. With that news, the total number of layoffs made at well-known law firms since Feb. 27 tops 3,000.

Earlier throughout the day, news filtered in that layoffs, either apparent or confirmed, have been made at a total of five firms. Besides Sidley, they include Baker Botts; Blank Rome; Husch Blackwell Sanders; and Proskauer Rose. Counting only confirmed totals at Sidley, Blank Rome and Husch Blackwell, that puts the layoffs tally at over 3,000. And it appears that news of more attorney and staff axings could come tomorrow.

Throughout the day yesterday, no major firm announced it was letting any attorneys or staff go, although news reports that 23 attorneys were laid off yesterday at Proskauer Rose have not been denied by the firm.

Initially, Sidley didn't respond to multiple requests for comment from ABA Journal concerning an Above the Law report. Based at least in part on news provided by anonymous tipsters, the law blog reported that Sidley is laying off attorneys today in New York, Washington, D.C., and London (in the United Kingdom, this would technically be a redundancy consultation).

Six large conference rooms have been reserved by the firm's managing partner at Sidley's Chicago headquarters office from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, suggesting that layoffs are planned there, too, the ATL blog post said.

By the end of the day, Above the Law had included in its post the full text of the internal legal memo on which the Tribune article is based.

Meanwhile, a Baker Botts spokesman confirmed that the Texas-based international firm is making attorney and staff layoffs, but declined to specify the number.

And, as the day neared an end, there was news of terminations at Blank Rome and Husch Blackwell.

Earlier this week, the total number of confirmed layoffs of lawyers and staff at well-known law partnerships since Feb. 27 was nearing 2,700.

Also See:

ABA Journal: "New ABA Page Points to Career Help"

Last updated at 6:15 p.m. to include information about the number of layoffs at Sidley.

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