Two of Connecticut's largest firms confirmed staff cutbacks in the face of a tightening economy, with the brunt falling on secretaries and other office staff workers.
At the Hartford offices of Day Pitney, co-managing partner James Sicilian confirmed that 66 staff members have been laid off Thursday firmwide, 31 of whom are in Connecticut. Day Pitney's two main offices are in Hartford and Florham Park in northern New Jersey, with additional offices from Boston to Washington D.C.
David Sturgess, at Hartford-based Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, said his firm has laid off three secretaries and two first-year lawyers in the Hartford office.
"We have been looking at the economic situation since August and September, when the financial markets collapsed," Sturgess said. "This was not an easy decision."
"We don't have any plans for a reduction in force for lawyers," said Sicilian. "We don't plan anything now for attorneys."
Colleagues of the laid-off Day Pitney staffers said that some of those who lost jobs had served for more than 20 years, and in one case, nearly 30. "People are in shock -- it's a very sad day," said one person who has spoken with the newly unemployed.
Last week, more than 1,100 lawyers and staffers were laid off across the country; 700 pink slips were handed out on Feb. 12 alone, as the day became known as "Black Thursday."
In Boston, venerable firms have already had staff and lawyer cuts, including Fish & Richardson, Cooley Godward Kronish, Foley Hoag, Choate Hall & Stewart and McDermott Will & Emery, according to the Boston Business Journal.
Some of those firms have reportedly minimized economic layoffs by calling their layoffs "performance-related."
Sturgess, at Updike, was very clear on that point, noting that his firm's layoffs "were definitely not performance-related decisions," he said.
Although Day Pitney and Updike are the first to make significant economy-driven staff cuts in the Hartford marketplace, they probably will not be the last, Sturgess noted. "Every firm is looking at this economy, large and small," he said.