The latest law firm layoff announcement hit five offices of Seattle-based Perkins Coie this week with the cut of a dozen associates and 26 nonlawyer staffers.
The downsizing action, first reported at the legal blog Above The Law, comes on the heels of another West Coast-based firm, intellectual property-focused Townsend and Townsend and Crew, announcing it laid off 16 lawyers and 45 staffers last week.
For Perkins, a 700-lawyer business law and litigation firm with 15 offices, the affected offices include the Seattle headquarters; Chicago; San Francisco, Menlo Park, Calif.; and Bellevue, Wash., according to Robert Giles, the firm’s managing partner.
“We have a culture to avoid layoffs so we held off longer than most firms,” Giles said. “But there was a realization that the economy was not going to come back as quickly as we hoped and some areas where people were just not busy,” he said.
Around the country, firms large and small have faced staffing cuts. The month began with layoffs announced at Dechert, Clifford Chance and Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge. Dechert led the pack in the latest round with a cut of 125 positions worldwide.
Giles said of the Perkins downsizing, “It comes to a point where you are beyond where you can just spread the work thinner.”
He said all 12 lawyers let go were associates but not necessarily first-year associates. The selection cut across practice groups, based on workload and client demand, he said.
The cuts amount to between two to four lawyers per office and the same number of staff. Staff took a bigger hit in the firm’s headquarters in Seattle.
“The recession is hitting everyone, and we’re not immune,” Giles said. “Hopefully, this is a one-time adjustment,” he said.