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Top Layoff List Led by Orrick and Latham

Posted Mar 5, 2009 7:47 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Corrected: Law firms at the top of a lawyer layoff list are Orrick, for the highest percentage of laid-off associates and other nonpartner lawyers, and Latham & Watkins, for the greatest number.

American Lawyer compiled the top 10 layoff list of large law firms. Orrick is No. 1 in percentages for laying off almost 20 percent of its nonpartner lawyers, and Latham is on top by numbers for laying off 190 lawyers.

Orrick announced its layoffs on Tuesday, while Latham’s cuts came a few days earlier. It has been a bad week for associates and administrative staffers; law firms have made more that 1,200 cuts since Friday, ABAJournal.com reports.

More layoffs are in the offing, according to law firm consultant Peter Zeughauser. "The big boys haven't weighed in yet,” he told the American Lawyer.

The top 10 list is dominated by California and Midwestern firms, the story notes. Here are the top four, in percentage terms:

1) Orrick, which cut 140 nonpartner lawyers, almost 20 percent of the total.

2) Cooley Godward Kronish, which cut 52 nonpartner lawyers, about 13 percent of the total.

3) Bryan Cave, which cut 58 nonpartner lawyers, about 11 percent of the total.

4) Latham & Watkins, which cut 190 nonpartner lawyers, about 11 percent of the total.

O’Melveny & Myers is seventh on the list, for cutting more than 9 percent of its nonpartner lawyers. The law firm announced yesterday it was laying off about 90 lawyers and 110 staff members.

The Am Law Daily had originally placed Holland & Knight second on its list based on incorrect information that the law firm had laid off 70 associates. The law firm says it has laid off 70 lawyers, but the number includes partners and contract attorneys. It did not provide a further breakdown.

The Am Law Daily dropped Holland & Knight from the list and put McDermott, Will & Emery in fifth place, but a McDermott spokesperson tells the ABA Journal that the 60 lawyers it laid off included partners as well as nonpartner lawyers.

O’Melveny is now in seventh place on the Am Law list, but it would move to sixth place if McDermott is dropped.

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