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Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian has resorted to a third round of layoffs, shedding 14 staff members but sparing associates. The 102-lawyer corporate boutique laid off two paralegals and 12 other support staff from its Menlo Park office Thursday. The layoff didn’t affect staff at the firm’s Boston and New York offices. Embattled by the depressed technology markets, Gunderson has had to lay off associates and staff on two other occasions and has been quietly thinning its ranks through turnover and other means. Gunderson laid off 16 associates and 28 staff in October 2001 and then in May 2002, the firm cut eight associates. The firm is down to 102 lawyers from the 164 on its roster a year ago, a 38 percent decline. And its staff headcount is down to 69, a 55 percent decline from the 152 employed by the firm a year ago. The continued slowdown in work and new ways of using technology are both behind the firm’s decision to do a third round of layoffs, said Steven Franklin, the Gunderson partner who manages the firm’s operations. “It was a combination of factors that made us look at the support staff numbers we had and make adjustments,” Franklin said. Franklin said that even when the firm scores a complex merger deal, the preparations are not as labor intensive as they were just a few years ago. For example, staff logged countless hours compiling huge mailings to interested parties on deals in the past, but that task is now accomplished by e-mail, Franklin said. And there simply aren’t as many deals, he added. “The level of activity has changed in this environment,” Franklin said. Gunderson is not the first law firm to split the blame for layoffs between technology and the bad economy. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati cut 100 staff members in August. At the time, Chairman Larry Sonsini only partially blamed the slowdown in Silicon Valley work for the layoff, adding that technology was making some support staff obsolete.

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