Although things have quieted on the law firm layoff front, they haven't gone silent. Philadelphia-based Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis confirmed it laid off attorneys and staff in March, including a small group of partners.
Managing partner Ralph Wellington said the firm laid off three partners mainly because their practice areas weren't sustainable in the firm's long-range business plan. While he wouldn't get into exactly which practices they were, he characterized one as a type of real estate work he said the firm wouldn't be able to support moving forward.
Wellington said the firm has hired, however, five partners in the same time frame. Those partners have been in areas like intellectual property, bankruptcy and tax.
When it came to the laid off partners, Wellington said the layoffs were a combination of both the economy and a "practice adjustment." He said the firm was forced to take a look at its makeup when the economy turned and made some decisions to move away from certain practices. He said, however, that was something Schnader Harrison probably wouldn't have done if the economy were still going strong.
Aside from the partners, Schnader Harrison laid off five associates firmwide and "less than 10" staff members, Wellington said. He said those cuts were more in response to the economic climate and slower practice areas. All of those affected were given severance packages, he said.
Wellington said he met with the associates and partners of the 200-lawyer firm last week and said he expected these cuts to be the last.
The layoffs, Wellington said, were "prudent tightening" the firm needed to do in light of the economy.
While the pace of layoffs may seem to be slowing, the effects are still considerable.
Pennsylvania law firms have laid off nearly 1,300 people since the cuts first started in March 2008. That includes both attorneys and staff and does not include the 250 staff members and nearly 300 attorneys put on the market after Wolf Block voted to dissolve in late March.
It should be pointed out that the community has done its fair share of hiring after the Wolf Block collapse. Of the 300 attorneys, more than 200 have found new positions, mainly with Pennsylvania firms. It is unclear how many staff members found new positions.
• Dechert -- The firm has laid off 254 attorneys and staff since it first made cuts in March 2008.
• Reed Smith -- The firm laid off a total of 283 staff and attorneys across its U.S. and London offices. It said that 50 of those staff members were let go as part of the firm's overall plan to reduce its staff-to-attorney ratio.
• Morgan Lewis & Bockius -- The firm cut 161 staff members and 55 attorneys in its U.S. offices in the beginning of March 2009.
• K&L Gates -- The firm laid off 36 associates and 79 staff members in its U.S. offices in early March and placed six London lawyers into redundancy consultation.
• Blank Rome -- The firm has laid off a total of 139 staff and attorneys since it first made cuts earlier this year.
• Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young -- The firm laid off six associates and four staff members in December.
• Saul Ewing -- The firm has cut a total of 26 attorneys and staff through two rounds of cuts.
• Cozen O'Connor -- The firm cut 61 staff members, including six paralegals, in February.
• Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney -- The firm confirmed between 50 and 55 staff layoffs through two rounds of cuts between November 2008 and March 2009.
• Drinker Biddle & Reath -- The firm let go of about 20 associates in January across a variety of practice areas.
• Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll -- The firm has let go of at least 53 support staff and has denied rumors that any attorneys were affected.
• Duane Morris -- The firm cut a total of 22 staff positions last year.
• Wolf Block -- Prior to its recent dissolution vote, Wolf Block had cut a total of 15 staff and attorney positions in January.