Three Orrick execs are leaving; 21 staffers laid off

Three high-ranking executives are leaving Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, just a few months after Mitchell Zuklie took over as chairman of the law firm.

Leaving the firm are chief human resources officer and U.S. executive director Gera Vaz, chief operating officer Reid Horovitz and chief knowledge officer Peter Krakaur, report Reuters and the Am Law Daily.

Zuklie told Reuters that Orrick is eliminating the positions of human resources officer and knowledge management officer. He also said Horowitz informed the firm last fall that he intended to leave, and Orrick had not yet decided whether to replace him.

“A thinner, more nimble management team is an objective of mine,” Zuklie told Reuters. He told the Am Law Daily that the firm previously had separate human resources structures for lawyers and staffers, and they would now be consolidated.

Reuters talked to former partners and other sources, who said Orrick’s former chairman, Ralph Baxter, had faced criticism for paying hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece to executives who did not practice law.

The executive staff cuts were announced in May, Reuters says. This week, the firm also announced in an internal memo that an additional 21 staffers were being laid off. The eliminated positions are in records, finance, and information technology, and do not include secretaries or paralegals, Zuklie told the Am Law Daily. Those affected will receive “really generous severance,” he said.

Another 11 positions are being moved to the firm’s back office support center in West Virginia.

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