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May 1, 2009 11:28 AM

Squire Sanders Cuts 32 Lawyers, Slashes Associate Pay

Posted by Brian Baxter

Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, which has 32 offices worldwide, has let go of 32 attorneys and cut first-year associate pay by 10 percent, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

News of the firm's move first leaked to Above the Law earlier this week, which reported that associates were informed of the pay cuts via voice mail.

The Plain Dealer reports that first-year associate salaries will drop from $130,000 to $117,000 per year as of May 1. Employment laws in Europe and Asia will require that the cuts take place for associates in Europe and Asia a month from now.

Seven of the associates let go by Squire Sanders were in the firm's Cleveland office, reports the Plain Dealer. Most of those fired firmwide had spent three years or less with the firm.

It's the third round of layoffs at the firm, which also cut 22 associates and eight paralegals in November and nine employees in its Miami office in January.

Timothy Sheerhan, the firm's hiring chairman, told the Plain-Dealer that the salary and staff cuts reflect a drop in business both for Squire Sanders and its clients. Sheerhan told the paper that clients have told the firm that "the value that we provide is out of line in some cases with what we are charging for our work."

Sheerhan told Crain's Cleveland Business that besides Cleveland, the firm's layoffs occurred in China, the Slovak Republic, Venezuela, Hong Kong, Ukraine, the U.K., Russia, Poland, and the Dominican Republic. Besides the seven layoffs from the Cleveland office, another seven came from the rest of the firm's U.S. offices, including one in Columbus.

New hires have also had their start dates postponed until January 2010. Sheerhan told Crain's that their salaries will not be more than the $117,000 per year being made by current first-years.

While the firm's litigation department continues to remain busy, Sheerhan told Crain's that the cutbacks were an unfortunate "action we regret having to take."

According to Am Law 200 financial data obtained by The American Lawyer, Squire Sanders saw gross revenues increase 9.2 percent last year from $530.6 million in 2007 to $579.5 million in 2008. But profits per partner fell 4.9 percent from $825,800 to $785,000.

The layoffs leave the firm with 843 lawyers in 32 offices throughout 15 countries.

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This article is inaccurate. SSD cut salaries 10% for ALL associates. Not just first years. Make that 15% cuts... not 10%. This article should read, SSD cuts salaries 15%+ this year or, alternatively, SSD cuts associate salaries by an additional 10%. Keep in mind they froze pay this year, depriving associates of their standard 5 - 8% raise. They are now justifying this with partners taking a 4-7% decrease in salary. No wonder SSD is a second rate firm. How the hell are you going to recruit when you give your associates a haircut that is twice as much as the partners? Very odd way to run a business. I assume you also gave your associates huge bonuses in 2005 and 2006 when your partners were recording record years? Yeah, right. At SSD, it sounds like the associates are only welcome to share in the shitty times. Sweet. I am going to lateral to SSD.

When my friend at SSD tells me her stories, it makes me glad I chose a real law firm.

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