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Cooley Godward laid off two associates, three paralegals and a staffer from its immigration practice Monday. The immigration group, based entirely in Cooley’s San Francisco office, deals with visa applications and other issues for companies hiring employees from outside the country. “We expanded the group significantly in order to meet overwhelming demand,” said Cooley Chief Operating Officer Mark Pitchford. In light of the fall-off in the tech economy and employment in Silicon Valley, Pitchford said, “we took a surgical approach to reduce the numbers in that group.” Those laid off will receive a severance package, but Pitchford declined to specify what it was. Following the layoff, the immigration group has three partners, six associates and 17 paralegals and staffers. The practice was established about eight years ago. Pitchford said the firm has no plans for layoffs in any other group. Like other tech-focused firms, Cooley has been struggling with the downturn in the economy. It was the first firm to lay off associates en masse last year. This year it has trimmed a handful of associates. In addition to the immigration attorneys, Cooley laid off five associates and five staff members in its Kirkland, Wash., office in June. Pitchford said that outpost now has two partners and five or six associates and is “plugging along.”

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