Bingham McCutchen has confirmed that it laid off staff last week in at least two Bay Area offices —12 in San Francisco and five in Silicon Valley.

San Francisco managing partner Geoffrey Howard said the S.F. layoffs constituted between 5 and 10 percent of the staff there and affected three departments: support services, accounting and records.

“We are constantly assessing our operations in all of our 13 offices,” Howard said. “That’s something we need to do in order to stay competitive.”

“As an example, we don’t send and receive nearly as many faxes as we did five years ago,” he added. “And that has an impact on staffing and on how we organize ourselves.”

In fact, Howard said, the San Francisco office and the firm as a whole just had their strongest first quarter ever.

Those laid off in San Francisco did not include staff who worked directly for the lawyers who have left the firm, Howard said. In Northern California, the firm lost at least two partners in February, three in March and two in April.

“This is just a normal part of our continual assessment of our business process,” Howard said.

In Silicon Valley, two staff were laid off in the conflicts department, one in the secretarial department, one in the library department, and one in the calendaring department, according to an e-mail from James Schwarz, regional director of administration for the firm.

The firm’s Web site lists 114 lawyers in San Francisco and 42 in Silicon Valley.