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Partner Layoffs Haven’t Ended in BigLaw, Surveys Indicate

Posted Jan 7, 2013 7:37 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The layoffs aren’t over for partners in some large law firms, two surveys show.

The planned cuts are a reaction to partner billables that remain “stubbornly low,” the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports. Some partners bill less than 1,300 hours a year, compared to a benchmark of 1,900 hours set before the recession. At the country’s top 200 law firms, many partners struggle to bill 1,700 or even 1,500 hours, law-firm consultant Paula Alvary told the newspaper.

A survey of about 120 law firms by Wells Fargo Private Bank's Legal Specialty Group found that about 15 percent are planning partner cuts in the first quarter, the story says. A second survey by the American Lawyer of 113 law firm leaders found that 55 percent plan to cut between one and five partners, and 5 percent intend to cut between 11 and 20 partners.

The newspaper interviewed a partner asked to leave a large law firm during the recession. He lost his new job at a law firm last year. "You're only as secure as the amount of money you bring in," he said.

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