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I n a last-ditch effort to avoid layoffs, Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison is offering to pay underperforming associates in its business and technology group as much as five months’ salary to leave the firm.

The so-called “separation incentive program” is open to associates who will have billed less than 1,300 hours by the end of the year. Brobeck expects associates to bill a minimum of 1,950 hours per year. Those who sign up for the program will receive a lump sum equal to their base salary through April 15. They have until Dec. 6 to take the offer.

Associates were informed of the program in an e-mail Friday. Partners hand-delivered the memo, along with documents detailing the plan, to eligible associates. The firm declined to say how many of the 265 associates in its business and technology group are eligible for the buyout. But one associate said most of the attorneys in the group will not bill 1,300 hours by the end of the year.

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