Dewey Laying Off 5% of Attorneys, 6% of Staff

by lawshucks on March 3, 2012

Above the Law smelled something fishy more than a week ago, but we suspect even they were surprised by Dewey & LeBoeuf’s announcement of significant layoffs.

ATL has the full memo, but here’s the money quote from managing partner Steven Davis:

Notwithstanding our results in 2011 and so far this year, the firm’s Executive Committee has decided to take proactive steps to align the firm’s resources with anticipated demand and strengthen the firm’s competitiveness in the global marketplace. Some recent partner departures have been consistent with the firm’s strategic planning for 2012, and we expect some additional partners to leave. In addition, we are reducing the number of lawyers and administrative staff globally by approximately 5% and 6% respectively. While decisions of this nature are necessary to ensure the firm’s competitiveness, they are always difficult and we very much regret the impact they have on our colleagues who are affected.

We’re ringing that up as 75 lawyers (5% of 1,100 for the associates, plus another approximately two dozen partners reported by ATL) and 55 staff (6% of about 900, given the increased ratio of fee-earners to support staff).  We’ll update as more-refined information becomes available.

Just the other day we wondered whether Bingham would be alone when it announced a pretty hefty staff layoff, but this move by Dewey is, frankly, reminiscent of the Spring of 2009.

This is the seventh reported round of layoffs at the firm:

  1. 48 lawyers on April 4, 2008, when the firm closed its Hartford, Austin, and Jacksonville offices
  2. Ten lawyers on October 20, 2008, when the firm left Charlotte
  3. 12 associates on December 4, 2008, from the structured finance practice
  4. Eight associates on January 13, 2009, mostly Los Angeles corporate
  5. 15 lawyers and 115 staff on March 4, 2009
  6. 30 staff on March 9, 2010, mostly admins in the LA, NYC, and DC offices

Stats from the Layoff Tracker:

  • Dewey & LeBoeuf has laid off 169 lawyers and 200 staff, for a total of 369
  • That means the firm enters the charts for the Top 10 for total layoffs, at #7, bumping Holland & Knight
  • The firm debuts at #8 in the ranks of lawyer-only layoffs, allowing the folks at McDermott Will & Emery to drop off the radar
  • No changes in the staff-only layoffs
  • This does end a five-way tie for #3 on the ranking of firms by number of rounds of layoffs.  Dewey now holds the spot solo, trailing DLA Piper (10) and Clifford Chance (13).  Baker & McKenzie, Cadwalader, Dechert, and Eversheds are now tied for fourth with six rounds reported for each
  • 2012 totals are now 172 overall, of which 75 are lawyers and 97 staff.

So now with two clear BigLaw firms having announced recent layoffs, how much worse do you think things will get?  Still optimistic about those bonuses?

  • Guest

    Your layoff charts no longer display properly. It’s hard to see which firm is represented in some of the columns.

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