Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati announced Wednesday that it is eliminating about 35 secretarial positions primarily in its Palo Alto, Calif., office. Co-managing partners Douglas Clark and John Sheridan announced the move internally in a firmwide memo Wednesday morning obtained by The Am Law Daily.
According to the memo, affected legal secretaries will receive “separation pay and the appropriate support services.” Wilson Sonsini senior vice president Courtney Chiang Dorman declined to provide details on the severance packages, but she passed along the following statement via email: “We did announce a restructuring of our legal support function, which resulted in the elimination of approximately 35 secretarial positions. While it’s regrettable to eliminate positions of any professionals, it is important to align our workforce to meet the needs of today’s lawyers, support our clients, and best utilize the potential of our legal support staff.”
The memo does not state what percentage of the staff the cuts represent.
According to the latest Am Law 100 survey, Wilson Sonsini posted gross revenues of $539 million in 2012, down 1.8 percent from the prior year. Profits per equity partner were down 6.8 percent to $1.645 million, while revenue per lawyer fell 4.3 percent to $890,000.
The memo cites a change in work habits and “technology and increased operational efficiencies” as the root of the cutbacks. Shifts in technology have made traditional clerical functions the primary target of recent cutbacks at large law firms including Duane Morris and K&L Gates, as our colleagues at The Legal Intelligencer reported earlier this week.
With demand for legal services stagnating, firms continue to target cost-cutting measures in search of profit growth. Wilson’s leaders concluded in Wednesday’s memo: “Unfortunately, the job and the industry have changed, and we must make some changes to more efficiently serve our internal constituency and clients, and better position the firm for the future.”