Layoffs, Secretaries / Administrative Assistants

What’s Going on at Reed Smith?

Reed Smith.jpgThe law firm of Reed Smith — which, as its Google listing reminds us, is “[o]ne of the 15 largest law firms in the world” — has been in the news a lot lately. Here’s a quick recap.
Some of the news has been good, and some not-so-good. Let’s get the bad news over with first.
Last month, a Pennsylvania state court judge gave the green light to an overbilling lawsuit brought by a former Reed Smith client — a non-profit organization, no less. From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

A Lawrence County Common Pleas Court judge rejected four of five objections by the Downtown law firm Reed Smith, which was sued by a youth foster-care foundation in a dispute over fees.

Bair Foundation, New Wilmington, Lawrence County, sued Reed Smith in November for billing it nearly $1 million — in contrast to the firm’s early estimate of $112,000 in legal costs — to defend the foundation in an employment discrimination lawsuit, according to the complaint.

The $112,000 was a revised estimate; the original estimate, according to the complaint, was $50,000. And Reed Smith’s client ended up losing in the underlying lawsuit.
According to Am Law Daily, “[t]he matter has turned into something of a public relations nightmare for Reed Smith…. The complaint paints a picture of a billing machine run amok.” For its part, the firm denies the allegations and claims that it “will prevail.”
More Reed Smith news, after the jump.

This next news item is both good and and. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Most of Reed Smith’s American and European offices aren’t open when the firm’s Beijing and Hong Kong personnel start their business days. But though the Asian offices are 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, attorneys and staff there can call on the law firm’s Pittsburgh headquarters any time of the day or night to track documents, process dictation or send out a bulk mailing.

The uninterrupted connection between Reed Smith’s flagship and its 23 other offices worldwide is made possible by a business center in the Gulf Tower, Downtown, that operates 24 hours, seven days a week.

The article paints a happy picture of efficiency; the resulting layoffs get little mention. One tipster complains: “[T]he global, around-the-clock global business center gets top billing, and the fact that 21 secretaries in one office were fired is buried towards the end of the article.”
But that’s the way of the world. To quote the Fried Frank defender:

Are law firms now not allowed to conduct themselves in a fiscally responsible manner without being called out for it?

…. If there are roles that are no longer needed at the firm, the firm should cut those costs. Is the firm supposed to keep people on its payroll indefinitely, even if the firm no longer needs those services?

And now, the good news. First, SEC litigatrix Amy Greer has joined the firm, after five years at the Commission.
Second, it sounds like Reed Smith put on a fun program for its summer associates. In July, they took summers out to a drag show called Martha Graham Cracker.
“Pretty unusual for a law firm, but everyone had a good time,” according to our tipster. “Maybe not as cool as [Simpson Thacher’s] private Dark Knight showing, but definitely better than [Weil’s] circus black tie event.”
Judge frowns on Reed Smith in lawsuit over billing [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]
Former Client’s Overbilling Suit Against Reed Smith Can Continue [Legal Intelligencer]
Reed Smith Loses Round One of Overbilling Lawsuit [Am Law Daily]
Reed Smith’s 24/7 office maintains constant connection for two dozen international sites [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
SEC litigator returns to private practice at Reed Smith [National Law Journal]

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