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Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison has avoided layoffs so far, but its joint venture in Europe hasn’t been as lucky. Brobeck Hale and Dorr — a partnership between Brobeck Phleger and Boston’s Hale and Dorr — cut seven corporate associates from its London and Oxford offices Nov. 16. Prior to the layoffs, the London office had 36 associates, and the Oxford office had eight. The firm said it issued pink slips in response to the poor economy. Departing associates will receive 3 1/2 months’ salary, as well as health care and investment fund benefits. Brobeck Phleger said the joint venture’s decision to lay off associates was made independently of the firm’s San Francisco managers. “It’s a separate entity,” said Brobeck communications director Allan Whitescarver. “This was a tactical decision made by the management of Brobeck Hale and Dorr.” He said their decision was not approved or vetted by Brobeck Phleger, “nor is it a harbinger that layoffs are a certainty — they’re merely a possibility — at Brobeck Phleger.” Brobeck Phleger has sought to avoid taking this step. Two weeks ago, the firm offered idled associates in its business and technology group as much as five months’ salary to leave the firm. The “separation incentive program,” was introduced that day after new management took the helm, and Tower Snow Jr. stepped down as chairman. Brobeck Hale and Dorr opened its first office in London 11 years ago. It branched into Oxford last year and opened a third office in Munich at the beginning of this year.

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