More Law Firms Announces Staff Cuts

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Orrick Slims Down with 6 Percent Cuts to Workforce; Reed Smith Lay Off Lawyers

Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, the San Francisco-based law firm is cutting 6 percent of its global workforce, and Reed Smith are to also lay off 50 lawyers in another sign of the tightening legal market in a subdued market, particularly in the tech area.

This move by Orrick reflects the broader trend seen among tech-focused practices, which have been affected by the significant slowdown in the tech market during the latter half of 2022. This slowdown follows a period of sustained growth.

The Reed Smith cuts, announced internally on Friday, amount to a “less than 2 percent” reduction of the workforce.The American Lawyer reported that Reed Smith’s cut amounts to 20 staff members and 30 lawyers.

Orrick has stated that the reduction will impact both its legal professionals and staff members. The firm believes that this approach is the most equitable and transparent way to advance its strategy and ensure sufficient work opportunities for its team.

The majority of practice areas and locations within Orrick will be affected, resulting in approximately 40 associates and 50 staff members being impacted by the workforce reduction.

In its statement, Orrick explains that this action is a response to various market forces, including reduced client demand in certain areas due to market uncertainty.

Additionally, the firm acknowledges the influence of technology, data, and the changing dynamics of the workplace, which have necessitated adjustments in the support required to serve clients and operate the firm.

The firm expresses appreciation for the significant contributions made by the affected colleagues and emphasizes that this reduction is not a reflection of their performance. Orrick is committed to supporting them during this transition by providing a comprehensive transition package.

Orrick will also reportedly be deferring its incoming associate class until mid-January 2024.

Other Big Law Reductions

Cooley, a prominent law firm on the West Coast, was the first to announce significant workforce reductions in December of the previous year, with plans to lay off 150 employees, including nearly 80 attorneys. In January, Goodwin Procter also implemented cuts, affecting approximately 5 percent of its “timekeeper” and operations personnel.

Other law firms, including Dechert, Shearman & Sterling, Davis Wright Tremaine, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, and Kirkland & Ellis, have also made staff reductions. However, Kirkland & Ellis clarified that its decision to let go of associates was based on performance evaluations resulting from its attorney review process, rather than being classified as layoffs.

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