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Philadelphia-based Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen has culled almost 10 partners — most of whom carry equity status — in an ongoing effort to focus on improving the firm’s profitability, firm Chairman Mark Alderman confirmed April 3. Alderman said the process began last summer when the firm approached certain partners, most of them in the corporate department, and told them that “maybe they would be best [working] some place else.” He added that no one had been fired and that three of the partners had already secured positions with clients, while about six others were looking for jobs elsewhere. Alderman could not give an exact number of culled partners. “This is a program that has been going on for a year,” Alderman said. “We are trying to mix and match our needs with our capacity. But I think it’s important to note that no one has been fired, no one has been given a date and told they had to leave by that point, and no one has been put out on the street. I’m actually proud of what we’re doing. We’re treating people respectfully while looking out for the interests of the entire firm.” Several local legal headhunters reported receiving r�sum�s from Wolf Block partners. One headhunter said that there were “definitely some unhappy people” working at the firm right now. “There has always been a couple of ease-outs, but Wolf Block’s not big enough [220 lawyers] to shove 10 partners out the door,” one source said. “There may be some happy people there because there is more in the pot for them. But it also has to create a climate of concern for those left behind because we are talking about good people and good lawyers [who were culled].” As for the reasoning behind the moves, Alderman indicated that the firm’s corporate department needed to be trimmed due to the slow economy putting a halt on dealmaking. But he added that the firm also felt it needed to monitor attorney production more closely. “We didn’t do this to improve our numbers in any kind of survey, but we do want to make the firm more profitable,” Alderman said. “Let’s face it, the world is not as forgiving a place as it used to be. In today’s competitive [business] environment, you are less able to carry people who are not meeting expectations.” Alderman added that the firm did not consider de-equitizing partners at this juncture but said that option could be possible as some of the lawyers in question could remain with the firm in a different capacity. While Alderman said the “program” began last summer, sources familiar with the firm said that resumes began floating around only recently. In addition to beginning the partner culling process last summer, Wolf Block also laid off five associates. Alderman was just recently elected to another three-year term as firm chairman, and in an interview just last week said his chief goal during the remainder of his tenure would be increasing the firm’s profitability while growing outside of Philadelphia, where two-thirds of its lawyer count is based. He said the firm is planning to expand its presence in North Jersey and enter the Washington, D.C., market. In that same interview, Alderman also said that he anticipated that the firm’s profits per partner for 2002 would be flat while revenue per lawyer would show a slight increase, a sign that costs had increased. Wolf Block is the second local large firm to confirm sizable trimming of its partnership ranks this year. Buchanan Ingersoll eliminated 14 partners — most of whom were non-equity — from its ranks. “I think every [large] firm in the United States is probably doing this,” Alderman said. “They all just don’t get reported.”

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