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Oakland, Calif.’s Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May shed 13 lawyers this week, joining the tidal wave of Bay Area recession layoffs. On Thursday, Menlo Park, Calif.’s Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian announced that it would send home 16 lawyers. That followed news earlier this week that San Jose’s Skjerven Morrill MacPherson let go of 11 associates. Palo Alto, Calif.’s Fenwick & West has cut 32 lawyers, and Cooley Godward, also in Palo Alto, axed 86 lawyers. Many of the top-grossing firms in the San Francisco Bay Area quietly have slimmed their payroll since January through performance-based cuts. Crosby Heafey whittled its associate ranks to keep the firm financially healthy, said Jack Nelson, a partner who is also chair of the management committee. “We are fortunate not to be so tech-dependent,” said Nelson. “The cuts are moderate, but painful nonetheless.” The cuts were scattered among associates in several practice groups and with various levels of seniority, Nelson said. The layoffs were also spread among the firm’s offices. The cutbacks include four attorneys in Crosby Heafey’s Oakland office; five attorneys in Los Angeles; three attorneys in Century City, Calif.; and one in San Francisco. That brings the number of attorneys at the firm to 241 — including the incoming fall class of 19 first-year associates who started this month. Some laid-off lawyers chose to leave immediately, while others will wrap up their duties by the end of the week. Nelson declined to say how much money the firm would save as a result. However, he noted that Crosby Heafey would also lose the revenue that those lawyers generated. The firm does not anticipate there will be any more cuts in attorney ranks, but Nelson did not rule out the possibility that there would be future reductions among nonattorney staff in the future. Before this week’s cuts, Crosby Heafey tried other cost-cutting measures, said Nelson. There has been an ongoing staff hiring freeze, and the firm saved some money with employee attrition. Nelson, who has been with the firm since 1985, could not recall another time when the firm had laid off lawyers. The number of summer associates and law school students who were offered jobs was not seriously affected, he said. However, he added the firm may be more conservative next year. The fate of the annual firm retreat is also up in the air. “It’s a general indication of the softening of the economy in the Bay Area and nationally,” he said.

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