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In a possible sign of cost cutting to come at law firms, Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed in Orlando has let go of seven attorneys, including five partners. Managing partner Nick Pope says the firm, which grew from 65 to 110 lawyers in the last year, made the move “as a preventative measure” in a softening economy. “When you grow that rapidly, you have inefficiencies in the way you operate,” says Pope. “We are seeing a slowdown in the economy. As a group, even law firms have to act like businesses.” Pope says the lawyers, whom he declined to name, were given severance packages “that should make them comfortable for a while.” Law firms in San Francisco and New York have dismissed lawyers, but no major firms in Florida have reported layoffs so far. However, with the declining economy, law firms specializing in real estate and corporate deal-making are expected to face an economic squeeze. More than half of Lowndes’ business is real estate, says Pope. The attorneys let go practiced in the areas of real estate and litigation. One lawyer, according to a source who did not want to be identified, was a lawyer focusing on construction law who had been with the firm 20 years. But Pope says his firm continues to hire lawyers in other practice areas and has no plans to close either of the firm’s two offices in Orlando. Biff Marshall, managing partner of Gray Harris, an Orlando-based firm that recently hired three other Lowndes partners, attributes the layoffs to a softening in the Orlando real estate market.

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