Holland & Knight, one of only three law firms on this year's Am Law 100 to report a drop in revenue, is laying off 70 legal secretaries firmwide in a cost-cutting move. The cuts announced Friday follow cutbacks by firms large and small nationally, including an indefinite 12 percent pay cut announced last week for all 128 attorneys at Fort Lauderdale-based Becker & Poliakoff.
In Miami, Holland & Knight is laying off four nonlawyers, according to firm spokeswoman Susan Bass in Tampa. She characterized the layoffs as a result of a review of the firm's books. "It was just too many people," she said. "We had some redundancies and inefficiencies." Bass said the firm let go an average of four people in each of its 17 U.S. offices, or 5 percent of its support staff.
Holland & Knight was the only one of four major Florida-based law firms to post declining revenue, according to a recent survey of the nation's largest firms. Gross revenue was down 0.2 of a percent to $613 million last year from $614 million in 2006. The firm also saw declines in total and average partner compensation, compensation to equity partners, revenue per lawyer and profit per equity partner.
Holland & Knight ranked 41 by revenue among the nation's largest firms last year, down from 32 the year before, in rankings by American Lawyer magazine, a Daily Business Review affiliate. Am Law ranks the firm 85th nationally in a measure of profit generated per lawyer.
The firm said it had 1,032 lawyers last August, and its Web site lists 1,150 lawyers.
Firm brass have noted the firm has been affected more directly by the economic slowdown than other national and international law firms because its roots are in Florida, which has been more acutely affected by the housing downturn than other parts of the nation.
The layoffs are the latest cost cutting at South Florida law firms, as the real estate-driven economy shrivels. Becker & Poliakoff, which specializes in real estate law, is coping with a $2.5 million shortfall in collections by spreading the shortfall among its professional staff.
In February, the leaders of Philadelphia-based Duane Morris and Buffalo-based Hodgson Russ confirmed they cut their South Florida paralegals and legal secretaries through layoffs and attrition.