The past few days have been rough for law firm support staffers.
Both Dewey & LeBoeuf and Shearman & Sterling announced Wednesday that they have cut a significant number of support positions, which comes on top of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe’s decision Tuesday to layoff 200 support staffers and 100 attorneys.
Dewey & LeBoeuf is letting go about 100 staffers in its U.S. offices and is also looking to eliminate 15 staff and 15 attorney positions in the U.K., a firm spokesman confirmed. Shearman & Sterling said it has parted ways with 60 support staffers in the United States and intends to cut about 18 positions in the U.K. News of both layoffs first appeared on legal blog Above the Law.
The cuts are not surprising. Along with law firm associates, support staffers have been bearing the brunt of personnel reductions as the legal industry struggles to adjust to the recession. Many firms that have cut attorney positions also are reducing staff, since a smaller attorney headcount means less work for support positions. As a cost-savings measure, some firms are also trying to reduce their staff-to-attorney ratio.
Both Dewey & LeBoeuf and Shearman & Sterling cited the economy as the impetus for the cuts.
“The state of the global economy has created unprecedented challenges for law firms and their clients,” a statement issued by Dewey & LeBoeuf reads.
“We do not believe that a major improvement in the economy is likely in the near term. In order to maintain a strong, dynamic and competitive business, we cannot refrain from responding to these challenges.” Dewey & LeBoeuf already has made several attorney reductions, including 12 attorneys in the structured finance practice in December and eight associates in the Los Angeles office in January.
At Shearman & Sterling, the departing staffers included secretaries and administrative personnel from a number of different areas, according to a statement from the firm. Finance, human resources, marketing and office services were among the impacted areas.
“We have implemented a variety of cost-cutting measures, including a worldwide administrative salary freeze, bonus pool reductions for associates and administrative staff, deferral of a number of projects, and decreased spending on discretionary activities,” said a statement issued by the firm.
“Regrettably, we have concluded that we must also reduce our administrative staffing levels in some locations.” The firm said departing staffers will receive a severance package and outplacement assistance.