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February 12, 2009 11:01 AM

BREAKING: Dechert Lays Off 19 Lawyers

Posted by Nate Raymond

Dechert said Thursday it was laying off 19 attorneys due to a "reduction in demand."

The layoffs are just the latest cuts at the firm, which employs more than 1,000 lawyers. In December, Dechert laid off 72 staff members in the United States. Another 15 were put up for anticipated cuts in London that month.

A spokeswoman for Dechert said in a statement that today's layoffs are spread throughout its 11 U.S. offices and include a mix of associates and counsel. The cuts were "primarily due to a reduction in demand that has affected most, if not all of the legal industry," she said.

"We are in a rapidly changing economic environment and it is impossible to predict the future," the spokeswoman said. "We will deal with the world as it changes."

The affected lawyers will receive a severance package "consistent with what we have done in the past," the spokeswoman said. The firm last laid off attorneys in February 2008, giving notice to 13 associates.

Dechert's revenue and profit figures for 2008 have yet to become public. But in a memo to associates in December, chairman Barton Winokur said Dechert was "affected along with most other firms and will certainly not reach the record revenues and profits that we experienced in 2007." In 2007 it grossed $836.5 million and posted profits per partner of $2.35 million.

Winokur said in the same memo that "2009 looks to be a more difficult year for both the world economy and for law firms."

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It's about time Dechert acknowledged its layoffs. It laid off dozens of attorneys throughout the fall for economic reasons.

At that time though, Chairman Winokur took it upon himself to lie, and slandered the laid-off attorneys in the local and national press by saying they were "being replaced with better people."

Someone else must be calling the PR shots there now.

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