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Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis has laid off as many as eight associates in its Philadelphia office, according to several sources familiar with the situation. A firm spokesman could not be reached for comment, and Schnader Harrison chairman Ralph Wellington was also unavailable. And attempts to reach Philadelphia office managing partner Diana Donaldson Monday were unsuccessful. But sources familiar with the situation said as many as eight lawyers — including a number of senior associates — were laid off on Friday and Monday. Several legal recruiters reported receiving calls from Schnader Harrison associates Monday. The affected lawyers practice in the areas of litigation, corporate, real estate and possibly one other practice group, according to sources. In August 2002, Schnader confirmed that it had decided to let go of two junior level associates in its litigation department and had laid off one other associate earlier in 2002 — all for reasons of “practice efficiency.” In April, Schnader Harrison was one of two large Philadelphia law firms to have laid off large numbers of support staff. Schnader Harrison handed out pink slips to 30 legal secretaries and administrative personnel. According to Martindale-Hubbell, Schnader Harrison’s Philadelphia office has 58 associates. The layoffs are the first at any local large firm since the beginning of the associate review period, which traditionally occurs when firms complete their fiscal years in January and February. “I think they are telling associates that they had a good year but that they are in a cost-cutting mode,” one recruiter said. “And when they are in a cost-cutting mode, firms often cut senior associates because they believe that work can be done on a comparable level for a cheaper rate by younger associates.” As for what kind of market the laid-off associates will enter, legal recruiters are divided. One said that it’s a “horrible market,” where there is not enough work to go around for many partners, let alone associates. And there is a tendency among partners to keep the work for themselves rather than to bring in support. But another recruiter said that despite the economic doldrums that have consumed the legal business over the past two years, there has been a moderate upswing in available jobs over the past few months. “I guess a lot of it depends on what practice area you are talking about,” the recruiter said. “Unfortunately, there’s a stigma attached to being laid off. But there are opportunities in litigation, IP and even some in corporate. Some firms are hiring despite what you hear about the economy. It’s something I call pent-up demand. They’ve held off on hiring people for so long, but they give in eventually because you need to get the work done.” Schnader Harrison has suffered through the losses of several key Philadelphia office partners over the past year as well as the departure of its 50-attorney Boston office, which merged into the firm in 2000.

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