Are we about to head into, or already in the midst of, a double-dip recession? The stock market has been taking a beating. Unemployment claims are on the upswing.
A month after the collapse of a proposed merger, San Francisco-based intellectual property boutique Townsend and Townsend and Crew announced Wednesday it is laying off nine attorneys and 25 staff members.
All nine attorneys, and most of the targeted staffers, are from Townsend’s Bay Area offices in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Walnut Creek. The layoffs reduce Townsend’s firmwide attorney headcount by 5 percent, to 174 lawyers, a firm spokesman said.
Which Townsend lawyers were hit hardest by the cuts?
Maureen Sheehy, the firm’s chairwoman, blamed the layoffs on a sustained economic downturn that has limited company spending, especially on patent litigation.
“We held on as long as we could, but haven’t seen signs that the level of activity is going to change,” she said.
Sheehy said most of the laid-off lawyers are litigators. “Patent prosecution groups have seen an uptick in demand [this year] while the litigators have not.”
Most, but not all, of the attorneys leaving Townsend are associates. Sheehy declined to say whether any of the other attorneys were partners.
A source tells Above the Law that the layoffs “consisted mainly of mid-levels and partners, at least three to four.” In this economic climate, even partners aren’t safe.
Alas, these are not the first cuts to hit Townsend. As noted in the Daily Journal, this is the second round of Townsend layoffs in the past 16 months. Back in April 2009, the firm laid off 16 lawyers and 45 staff members.
Good luck to the Townsend folks who received bad news this week. You should land on your feet. Although the viability of the IP boutique has been questioned, there always seems to be a market for talented IP litigators.