But given how many firms have laid off attorneys, there is no reason to be stealth about it anymore.
Gina Passarella at the Legal Intelligencer (who has been all over Dechert) reports that 19 attorneys were laid off today across all Dechert offices (subscription):
Dechert has confirmed that it laid off 19 attorneys today across its U.S. offices.
The group included associates and of counsel and several practice areas were affected, though the firm would not specify which ones.
After the jump, let’s close the loop on Dechert’s layoff of 72 staffers back in December.
When Dechert laid off staffers a week before Christmas, our Dechert sources were understandably worried that the move was a precursor to attorney layoffs:
[I]t’s not like we can have less secretaries unless there are less lawyers…
At the time, Dechert tried to reassure attorneys that their positions were safe:
According the spokeswoman, the firm’s attorney headcount is about steady compared to this time last year. She confirmed that it is still the firm’s position that it may see declines in some of its key financial indicators at the end of 2008, but would come out better than most firms.
As we have seen with other firms, it is possible to keep attorney headcount steady while still firing more senior (and expensive) people. That appears to be what Dechert has done here.
But this time, Dechert isn’t hiding the ball about the future. According to the Intelligencer’s report:
In a statement issued by the firm, it said the layoffs were “primarily due to a reduction in demand that has affected most, if not all of the legal industry.”
“We are in a rapidly changing economic environment and it is impossible to predict the future. We will deal with the world as it changes,” the statement continued. “The lawyers who are being terminated will receive a severance package consistent with what we have done in the past.”
Do we think this is the last round of Dechert’s 2009 layoffs? Or is it only the beginning?
Dechert Cuts 19 Lawyers [The Legal Intelligencer] (subscription)
BREAKING: Dechert Lays Off 19 Lawyers [AmLaw Daily]
Earlier: Dechert Ices 72 Staff Positions