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Chicago-based Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, one of the nation’s largest law firms, will terminate or demote 45 partners by the end of the year as a result of a restructuring plan designed to boost profits. “What this is really about is not anything other than trying to improve the profitability of our partnership,” said Tyrone C. Fahner, the firm’s chairman. “It’s not just so the individual partners will make more money but it helps us retain the very best lawyers. It also helps us to improve our position as we recruit laterals from other firms.” The firm, which ranked ninth last year on The National Law Journal‘s list of the country’s 250 biggest law firms, has more than 1,500 lawyers in 14 cities around the world. The termination or demotion of 45 lawyers accounts for about 10 percent of the firm’s total equity partnership, said Fahner, who will be replaced as chairman in June. Forty-two of the 45 lawyers affected are based in offices across the United States, but the largest number work out of the Chicago headquarters, Fahner said. About a half of the attorneys were given termination notices and the other half were offered the opportunity to be demoted to of counsel status, he said. The notices were given out over the last three days, he said. The firm’s profits per equity partner were $955,000 in 2006, the 51st highest in the nation, according to The American Lawyer magazine, a sister publication of the NLJ. Reducing the number of equity partners, or those who share in the profits of the firm, is a way to boost the profits for the remaining equity partners. Fahner said the restructuring plan, which was put in place in September, is not a poor reflection on the firm’s financial standing but simply a way to improve it. “This is not anything other than trying to be better, which we are,” he said. “This is really something to help us fulfill our own strategic goals.”

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