Lowenstein Sandler laid off about 8 percent of its attorneys on Thursday. The Roseland, N.J.-based law firm let go of 21 lawyers and 32 staff employees and reduced its incoming associate class size by three spots.
"Unfortunately, our efforts to substantially curtail expenses over the past year without reducing full-time headcount proved insufficient in the face of a rapidly slowing economy and slowing demand for legal services," wrote Lowenstein Sandler managing partner Gary M. Wingens in an e-mail that went out to firm employees on Thursday. "As has become abundantly clear over the past few months, our nation is suffering through the deepest global economic crisis that any of us has experienced during our careers."
Wingens said that in addition to a slowdown in clients' business activity, the firm has also seen attrition slow "dramatically."
While layoffs have become commonplace among large law firms, Lowenstein Sandler is taking an unusual approach with its incoming associate class.
That class was originally slated to have 18 spots but will now have 15. The firm has arranged public interest law positions for the three incoming associates whose offers had been rescinded, and will pay a year's salary at the public interest agency's normal rate.
The firm has not altered the normal September start date for the remaining incoming associates.
Firm spokesman Lee Garfinkle said the cuts were spread across various practice areas and affected the Roseland office as well as the New York office. The law firm is providing laid-off attorneys and staffers with severance and outplacement assistance.
Following the cuts, Lowenstein Sandler now has about 250 attorneys in four offices. Wingens wrote that the reduction brings the firm to about the same size it was in mid-2007, and that it is not planning further cuts.
"Each of us needs to continue to focus on the core values and priorities that have sustained our firm throughout the course of its history -- including empathy and compassion for our colleagues who are being laid off today and for other individuals and organizations in our communities who are impacted by these difficult times, as well as focusing on continuing to deliver the best and highest quality client service of any law firm out there," Wingens wrote.
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