Earlier this year, K&L Gates generated some (generally positive) press by issuing an unusually detailed disclosure of its firm financials. The report reflected a reassuringly conservative financial position, with zero bank debt and limited retirement-plan obligations (a trouble spot for many other law firms).

It looks like K&L Gates is keeping to its conservatism. It’s trimming its headcount in D.C. and Seattle, presumably to reduce expenses….

Here’s what we’ve heard from our sources:

  • As of Friday, August 30, the firm’s Document Services (DS) department will shut down in D.C. and Seattle, resulting in 24 to 30 staffers losing their jobs.
  • DS will now be based out of the Pittsburgh office.
  • Employees interested in transferring to the Pittsburgh office will have to apply for positions there.
  • Severance is being provided, one week per each year of employment.

UPDATE (2:00 p.m.): Actually, laid-off staffers are receiving two weeks of pay plus one week of pay per each year of employment.

This severance is not on the high side; other firms give as much as six months of severance to laid-off staffers. But some of the DS employees at K&L Gates have been with the firm for ten years or more, so they’ll be getting at least a few months of pay.

Here are additional details from a tipster:

This apparently was a last-minute decision of the powers that be in Pittsburgh. Everyone will have to be out by this coming Friday.

This is after the department hired new staff just six months to a year ago due to excessive workload.

Alas, law firms aren’t the greatest when it comes to managing their talent pipelines. Recall the firm that started laying off IP lawyers and staff attorneys just a year or so after it was recruiting them like crazy and paying referral bonuses for them.

We reached out to K&L Gates. The firm declined to comment.

Good luck to the dismissed Document Services employees. If you aren’t tied to Seattle or D.C. for family or other reasons, consider moving to Pittsburgh. Last year, Bloomberg Businessweek named Pittsburgh the 11th-best city in the United States. The idea of moving to Pittsburgh rather than away from it in order to get a job shows how things have changed in the Steel City — for the better.

UPDATE (8/30/2013, 9:15 a.m.): A bit more from a tipster:

There will be a transition team in DS in place until the end of September, meaning that the firm will keep about 6 people in the team for DS (which includes one person in the Seattle office DS). It also looks like there will be 6 people in the EDGAR team (meaning permanent staffing for the SEC filings), and they’re keeping their graphics person, who I believe will be in or under the Marketing department. Today a more definite plan will be established.

Earlier: Partner Profit Reports: K&L Gates Swing Wide Open


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