Carella, Byrne, Cecchi, Olstein, Brody & Agnello has laid off a dozen employees at the same time it is renegotiating the lease at its Roseland headquarters.

The firm let go three lawyers, seven secretaries and two paralegals, managing partner Charles Carella confirmed on Wednesday.

Although he would not identify the lawyers, Carella said they did not include equity partners. An independent source says nonequity partners were among the departed.

The employees were all notified on Tuesday. Prior to the layoffs, the firm had 37 lawyers — 22 partners, 11 associates and four of counsel.

Lawyer-to-secretary ratios had been about 2-to-1, and, after the reduction, are now closer to 3-to-1, Carella says. 

Carella says the personnel moves coincide with a rethinking of space needs, all in an attempt to “bring our staff up to the 2013 legal environment.” 

“When you evaluate the renewal of a lease, you take a look at your staff; you take a look at your needs,” he says. “You look at what the needs are with technology. Today, the space requirements are entirely different.”

The firm is planning to reduce the size of its physical plant, though it is not sure by how much, he says. It currently occupies 38,000 square feet at 5 Becker Farm Road, where it moved about nine years ago from a neighboring property, at 6 Becker Farm Road.

With lawyers using digital research via LexisNexis and Westlaw, there’s less need for library space, he says.

Carella declines to say how much will be saved through the cost-cutting moves. 

The firm, whose senior partners include former N.J. governor Brendan Byrne, was founded in Newark in 1976 and moved to Roseland about eight years later. Its practice areas  are general and complex litigation, intellectual property, corporate transactional, administrative, government, health care, public finance, environmental, creditors’ rights, bankruptcy, class actions and other matters.

Legal profession recruiter Stewart Cohen, of Topaz Attorney Search in Livingston, says a bevy of N.J. firms reduced secretarial staffs after the recession of 2008. “They’ve all gone through this cycle,” he says.

David Garber of Princeton Legal Search Group agrees that leaner secretarial ranks — as opposed to the traditional model that matched each secretary with one associate and one partner — are “absolutely more the norm now,” especially with young attorneys able to do their own word-processing. At many firms, new associates aren’t provided with secretarial support at all, he says.  

Carella Byrne’s layoffs came not long after Blank Rome — which has 12 offices, including one in Princeton — offered voluntary separation packages to all of its legal secretaries as part of a restructuring.  The firm has a goal of an overall 4-to-1 ratio, chairman Alan Hoffman told The Legal Intelligencer, an ALM publication.