Seyfarth reportedly lays off 40 lawyers and several staffers

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Seyfarth Shaw

Updtaed: Seyfarth Shaw has confirmed layoffs of lawyers and staff members, though the law firm didn’t specify how many were affected.

Sources say 40 lawyers and several staff members were laid off, according to Above the Law, which was first with the news, the Am Law Daily (sub. req.), Bloomberg Big Law Business and Crain’s Chicago Business.

Seyfarth had a strong year in 2016, with a 6 percent increase in gross revenue and a 3 percent increase in profits per partner, according to the Am Law Daily. But sources told that publication and others that revenue for the first quarter of 2017 was below expectations.

The layoffs reportedly affected junior partners, some associates and senior attorneys, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

The firm’s chair emeritus, Stephen Poor, criticized associate salary increases in a Bloomberg Big Law Business column last year. The increase from $160,000 to $180,000 for new associates “will place additional pressure on firms to correct staffing levels,” he argued. Seyfarth initially resisted the raises, adopted by many BigLaw firms, but eventually implemented them, according to the Am Law Daily.

Seyfarth announced last year that it signed a licensing deal to use “software robots” to automate mundane tasks.

Here is the statement issued by Seyfarth:

“Amid a shifting market for legal services, we have an obligation to continue managing our business as effectively as possible, while being responsive to the needs of our clients and the market at large. We’ve recently completed a careful review of our business to maximize performance and best serve our clients, while continuing to execute our growth plans.

“To meet these objectives, we have made the difficult yet necessary decision that some individuals, both lawyers and staff, will be leaving the firm. We are grateful for the contributions of those impacted, appreciate their service and are working to ensure their transitions are as smooth as possible.

“Looking ahead, the firm remains strong, focused, and growth-oriented as we approach the midpoint of the year.”

Chicago-based Seyfarth has offices in nine cities nationwide, two in Australia and one each in England and China, and employs more than 900 attorneys, according to its website.

Updated on May 18 to include information about Seyfarth.

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