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Day Pitney Lays Off 20 AttorneysDay Pitney laid off 20 attorneys this week, including four from the Hartford, Conn., office and six from Florham Park, N.J. This was the second round of cuts in three months for Day Pitney, which trimmed 66 staffers and paralegals in February. At the time, firm leaders said they didn't plan to eliminate any attorneys. "Unfortunately, the demand for legal services has continued to decline, with the result that we have found ourselves with excess capacity," Day Pitney stated in an internal memo.
The Connecticut Law Tribune2009-05-14 12:00:00 AM
Day Pitney has laid off 20 attorneys this week, including four from the Hartford, Conn., office and six from Florham Park, N.J., firm officials said Wednesday. Day Pitney's other Connecticut offices also were affected. Three Stamford-based attorneys were let go along with one attorney each in New Haven and West Hartford. Greenwich was untouched. The other five cuts were in the New York and Boston offices.
Day Pitney has nine offices that range from Boston in the north down to Washington, D.C.
This was the second round of cuts in three months for Day Pitney, which trimmed 66 staffers and paralegals from its ranks in February, including 31 in Hartford.
At the time, firm leaders told the Connecticut Law Tribune that the firm didn't plan to eliminate any attorney positions. "Unfortunately, the demand for legal services has continued to decline, with the result that we have found ourselves with excess capacity," Day Pitney stated in an internal memo announcing this week's cutbacks.
"2009 is an unpredictable year," Sicilian told the Connecticut Law Tribunelate Wednesday afternoon. "We've kind of been going along as we expected to be going along. In April, we began to realize that this was going to be necessary."
Considering the current economic climate, "whoever thought it wasn't a possibility that lawyers would be laid off was fooling themselves," said one Hartford-based Day Pitney attorney who spoke anonymously. "I can't say anybody is shocked. Everyone understands the reality and is glad it's not them."
That lawyer expects that the firm's management team will hold another town hall meeting for lawyers, paralegals and staffers. Sicilian said nothing is planned at the moment. In a February meeting, the firm management expressed the party line that they hoped to avoid more layoffs.
But the lawyer speaking anonymously knows of several colleagues whose practices have been stalled for the past nine months. "If we're not billing hours to support salaries and overhead, then layoffs are a reality," the lawyer said. "I'd rather have that than the firm closing its doors."
The cuts are spread among multiple practice areas including corporate, litigation, energy, intellectual property, real estate, labor and employment, and trusts and estates.
The memo further states that those who were fired have been offered a severance package of undisclosed value along with outplacement services. Firm officials declined further comment.
GROSS REVENUES FALL
Day Pitney, which has about 365 lawyers after the layoffs, brought in gross revenues of about $216 million in 2008, based on research conducted by the Connecticut Law Tribune.
While that total was tops in Connecticut and about double the next-closest firm, Day Pitney's gross revenues dropped by about $2.5 million compared to 2007. That's the year the firm was created by a merger between Hartford-based Day, Berry & Howard and New Jersey-based Pitney Hardin.
The new firm ranked No. 120 in the Am Law 200 listing of law firms for 2007.
Along with the lawyer cutbacks, Day Pitney announced it is pushing back the starting date for new associates to Jan. 5, 2010. The firm will pay a weekly stipend to each member of the incoming class from Sept. 15, the original start date, to Dec. 31.
"I wouldn't say [the stipend] is based on starting salary," Sicilian said. "It's something that we determined was fair and appropriate."
Day Pitney was preparing to bring in an associate class of 14 new attorneys this fall, according to information the firm provided to NALP, the association for legal career professionals.
Day Pitney also has encouraged the incoming associates to participate in public interest opportunities to fill the gap in unemployment. Hundreds of other associates hired by other law firms have been told the same thing this spring. That's led to legal services agencies around the country wondering how to logistically accommodate the bounty of available help.
With Day Pitney's announcement on Tuesday, the top four grossing firms in Connecticut all have announced lawyer and staff layoffs in 2009. Day Pitney's numbers of affected employees are the highest. Earlier this year, New Haven-based Wiggin and Dana laid off 14 lawyers and 14 staffers. Meanwhile, Hartford-based Robinson & Cole laid off 11 lawyers and 19 staffers, while Shipman & Goodwin laid off five lawyers and 21 staffers.
For more on the economic downturn's effect on the legal industry, see the ongoing Incisive Media report, "Crisis on Wall Street."