Yesterday we started receiving multiple reports of staff layoffs at DLA Piper. The reports related to various U.S. offices of the firm, including (but not limited to) Baltimore and Sacramento. They concerned support staff, including secretaries, but not lawyers. In terms of the scale of the layoffs, no hard numbers were available.

One source expressed surprise at the staff cuts, in light of the firm touting strong results as of late. For example, just last month DLA Piper fared quite well in the M&A league tables. The firm has also been making a decent number of lateral hires, suggesting expansion rather than contraction.

In response to an inquiry from Above the Law, DLA Piper confirmed an unspecified number of staff reductions, and issued a statement….

Here is the statement provided to ATL by the firm’s Chief Operating Officer, Bob Bratt:

It is important for us at DLA Piper to ensure that our resources, including support staff, are right-sized in order for us to maximize the performance of our firm. We believe we have achieved an optimal level of support staff to assist our lawyers in delivering the world-class legal services for which our clients rely on us.

“Right-sizing” is certainly the name of the game these days. Achieving the optimal mix of staff, associates and partners is a drum that law firm consultants have been beating for quite some time now.

Good luck to the affected individuals. On the bright side, with the economy (hopefully) on the mend, it should be easier for displaced employees to find work these days.

One other thought on timing: we’re getting close to the holiday season, a time when firms are usually reluctant to announce layoffs. So perhaps we’ll see a brief uptick in layoff news between now and Thanksgiving, before we settle in for (hopefully) quiet holidays.

The Churn: Lateral Moves and Promotions in The Am Law 200 – 11/9/09 [Am Law Daily]
The Churn: Lateral Moves and Promotions in The Am Law 200 – 10/29/09 [Am Law Daily]
DLA Piper tops global M&A Legal Advisory rankings [DLA Piper (press release)]


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