• Leigh Jones in The National Law Journal, helpfully reports that part of the reason for law firm layoffs is to “replicate [normal] attrition,” which one chairman she quotes puts at roughly 25 percent annually. Leaving aside the hat tip to Star Trek, she’s right, at least as far as she and the firms go. The problem is that they may have to go much further. Her unnamed chairman explains that his whole “machine” is built around a quarter of his associates leaving each year. But in a climate when virtually no one is leaving voluntarily, laying off a few dozen lawyers won’t keep his “machine” from choking on its unproductive parts. At some firms there are too many lawyers and too little work.

  • Our daily reports on big firm financials show that while top-line growth continued in 2008, profits per partner and revenue per lawyer tended to drop. (See The Am Law 100-A Work in Progress.) The situation is not yet dire. Partners continue to earn handsome rewards–less than last year, more like 2004-05. Many know how well they have it and haven’t started grousing. Some are exploring their lateral options; other are scrounging for business; and a few are eyeing their non-equity partners and their associates much as Clint Eastwood glares at his family and new neighbors in the opening scenes of Gran Torino.

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