As firms continue to find more creative ways to engage underutilized lawyers, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft has created an alternative to layoffs. The firm, which was one of the first to lay off associates back in January 2008, has opted for paid sabbaticals, as reported on Above the Law Tuesday.

The firm has confirmed that it is asking 34 lawyers from the capital markets and real estate finance groups to accept a “one year, unrestricted sabbatical.” The statement, released by the firm, did not say whether the sabbaticals were limited to associates. The move comes after a challenging 18 months, due in large part to Cadwalader’s flailing capital markets practice. In May, The American Lawyer reported that profits per partner for the 2008 fiscal year fell more than 30 percent.

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