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Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati made good Tuesday on its warning to lay off staff, giving pink slips to 100 of its secretarial and support staff. The firm had announced last week its plan to cut 11 percent of its 900-member support staff, including secretaries, paralegals, case assistants and document processors. The cuts affected the firm’s Palo Alto, Calif., headquarters and its San Francisco satellite but the firm’s remaining five offices were spared, said Courtney Weber, Wilson Sonsini’s spokeswoman. She said managers were satisfied with current staffing levels at the firm’s outposts. Laid-off staff members were given four weeks salary plus one week for every year of employment with the firm. Wilson Sonsini also will offer health benefits through October plus emergency child care and outplacement assistance, Weber said. The layoff marks the first organized and public downsizing Wilson Sonsini has undergone. That doesn’t mean the firm hasn’t been cutting. Since the economy began to spiral in 2000, the firm has quietly shed at least 168 associates through performance-related firings and attrition. The firm’s Silicon Valley competitors have all publicly announced layoffs of associates and staff. Earlier this month, Wilson Sonsini management finally acknowledged that the firm plans to lay off associates. Partner John Roos staged a series of town hall meetings for Wilson lawyers to announce the firm had to thin its ranks because of the sluggish economy. The openness marks a shift in Wilson Sonsini’s policy since associates first began to disappear from the firm’s rolls. “The need for communicating it was so that it was very clear what was happening,” Weber said. “That it was a clearly articulated business strategy with a rationale behind it.” Individual partners were given a mandate late last month to trim their teams of associates to match the work clients are bringing the firm, Weber said. The firm has not set a target for associate cuts, she added. “The difference with this restructuring is that this really was a top-down approach,” Weber said. “This was looking at the business and saying there has to be a different ratio.”

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