Law Firms

Cooley Godward Fires 52 Attorneys and 62 Staff Members

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Add another well-known law firm to the ever-lengthening list of those that have made significant layoffs this month.

Silicon Valley-based Cooley Godward Kronish announced in an internal memo today that it is laying off 52 lawyers and 62 staff members, reports Above the Law. The high-tech corporate and litigation firm—which, according to its website, has a roster of 725 attorneys—says in a memo authored by partner and chief executive officer Joe Conroy that it is making the firmwide layoffs in response to the struggling economy.

“Given the continued slowdown we have experienced in pockets of the firm over the last five months and the forecast for continuing global economic turmoil in 2009, the executive and management committees concluded that a reduction is necessary at this time,” Conroy writes. However, “notwithstanding the difficult steps we are taking today, the state of our firm is strong and I am confident about our future,” he adds farther down in the memo.

Seldom known to underplay claims of law firm layoffs, the ATL blog initially did so today. At first, it said in an earlier ATL post that Cooley Godward is making attorney and staff layoffs that could total “into the fifties.”

Later on, however, ATL updated its information and posted Conroy’s memo, which clearly indicates that the total number of laid-off lawyers and staff totals 114—double the initial ATL prediction.

As discussed in earlier posts, news of over half a dozen well-known U.S. law firms making attorney and/or staff layoffs has hit the press within approximately the past week.

Although layoffs obviously are distressing to those involved, the seemingly ever-increasing number of law firms laying off attorneys may mean that the firms themselves are well-managed, legal consultant Joel Henning of Hildebrandt International told in a Jan. 9 post, shortly after four more well-known law firms announced attorney cuts.

The struggling world economy can provide a useful impetus for addressing issues such as unproductive attorneys and the need to shift from lockstep to merit-based associate compensation that have been looming for some time, Henning told, as well as the need for law firm management to keep a close eye on financials and the ability of clients to pay their legal bills.

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