Law Practice Management

Once High-Rolling Vegas Law Firms Now Watch Their Wallets

Dealing with the worst legal economy they have seen in nearly four decades of practice, senior partners at law firms in Las Vegas are cutting costs wherever they can.

At Jones Vargas, that has meant partner pay cuts, rescinded job offers to a couple of incoming associates and one attorney layoff, the firm’s president, Joe Brown, tells the Las Vegas Business Press.

Eight staff members also were let go by the firm earlier this year, and the total number of attorneys at Jones Vargas is down by about 10 compared to three years ago because of attrition, Brown says. Among the bright spots: The firm is on budget for the year and has added to its roster this month Brian Sandoval, a former federal judge and state attorney general who is running for governor.

Similar belt-tightening is occurring at other well-known law firms. Lewis and Roca, which is based in Phoenix, laid off six lawyers this year, including two in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, a virtual hiring freeze is in effect at Lionel Sawyer & Collins: “Somebody special comes along and you take a look at them,” says Paul Hejmanowski, the firm’s managing partner. Like Brown, he has been in practice close to 40 years.

A few practice areas, including bankruptcy, are strong, and litigation also continues to be active, although a number of clients seek early settlement, the article reports.

Las Vegas-based Gordon Silver, which focuses on both practice areas, will soon open offices in Phoenix and Reno.

“We’re hiring,” partner Gerald Gordon tells the Business Press. “We are looking to expand. The world can’t stay this way forever.”

Related earlier coverage: (2007): “Lewis & Roca Grows With Merger”

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