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In a further effort to trim its employee ranks, San Francisco-based Pillsbury Winthrop is offering voluntary buyouts to about a dozen employees in its Palo Alto, Calif., New York and Stamford, Conn., offices. Pillsbury said the current buyout offer, directed at employees working in slow practice areas, was prompted by the continued economic downturn. “It is the most prudent business decision … to go into 2003 as strong and healthy as possible,” said Pillsbury spokeswoman Crystal Rockwood. Those who take the offer will receive four weeks’ salary plus 1 1/3 weeks’ pay for every year or partial year of service up to a maximum of 39 weeks. The severance package includes $3,000 for transition services, which include tuition reimbursement, financial planning and career counseling. Pillsbury is also freezing the salaries of non-attorney staff. Employees will still be eligible to receive bonuses, however. Rockwood said the firm couldn’t calculate how much money the firm would save from the buyout and salary freeze. Since Pillsbury has more than 900 employees, the salary freeze will be “a very significant cost savings,” Rockwood said. In the past year, Pillsbury has trimmed its attorney and staff ranks on several occasions. Besides the buyout of 15 staff in June, the firm also laid off 10 staff in its New York and San Francisco offices at that time. And in November 2001 it laid off 20 associates in its New York and Palo Alto offices. More recently, in August Pillsbury cut two corporate partners and two corporate associates from its Northern Virginia office.

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