Business of Law

Litigation success brings layoffs for 17 attorneys at law firm representing Halliburton

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Successfully defending Halliburton Co. in litigation related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill resulted in pink slips for 17 attorneys and six staff members at a Texas law firm.

After announcements early last month of a $1.1 billion proposed class action settlement and a finding by a federal judge in Louisiana that the company is responsible for only very a small fraction of the total liability, the Godwin Lewis lawyers were laid off on Sept. 30, Texas Lawyer (sub. req.) reports. Three were shareholders.

“When you are handling major litigation, as we typically do at Godwin Lewis, someday that litigation is going to be over and adjustments will be made,” said Donald Godwin, who serves as chairman and CEO. “We kept people here as long as we could … but as those needs subsided, we needed to make adjustments.”

He said the firm had opted to hire the litigation team rather than bring in contract workers so those hired could receive full benefits. Although Godwin Lewis, which has 45 lawyers in three Texas offices, is still representing Halliburton, the firm simply didn’t need as many attorneys after the Deepwater Horizon litigation slowed down.

It had to let some lawyers go even though they were “A-team quality,” Godwin told the legal publication, adding: “It was a tough day for all of those people involved. It was a tough day for all of us.”

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