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February 3, 2010 1:37 PM

Howrey Axes 29 Associates, 65 Staffers

Posted by Brian Baxter

In a memo from firm CEO and managing partner Robert Ruyak, Howrey has announced a "reduction-in-force" affecting both associates and staffers at the firm.

A Howrey spokeswoman confirms to The Am Law Daily that 29 associates and 65 staffers from Howrey's ten U.S. offices are affected by the cutbacks. (Howrey's six offices in Europe and one office in Asia are unaffected by the downsizing.)

News of the layoffs was first reported by Above the Law, which obtained a copy of Ruyak's memo.

This round of cuts comes less than a year after the firm eliminated 25 members of its secretarial staff last April. At that time, Howrey also sought capital contributions from equity and nonequity partners. According to ATL, the firm let go of ten associates at the end of 2008 for performance reasons.

Last summer, Howrey announced that all incoming first-year associates would enter into a two-year apprenticeship program designed to provide the newbie lawyers with extensive training before they move on to handling client matters at standard hourly rates.

"The old model is broken," managing partner Robert Ruyak said at the time. "You're bringing on these extremely bright individuals and letting them waste their careers buried in documents where they really aren't learning the practical skills it takes to be a lawyer."

Ruyak was in an all-day meeting and wasn't immediately available to comment on the layoffs.

According to the most recent Am Law 100 survey data, Howrey had gross revenues of $573 million and profits per partner of $1.3 million in 2008. The firm also posted the largest gain in revenue per lawyer with a 15.2 percent increase over its 2007 numbers to $870,000. (The firm has not yet reported its year-end financials for 2009.)

In July, Howrey finalized the acquisition of 25 lawyers by merging with struggling Silicon Valley IP boutique Day Casebeer Madrid & Batchelder.

The firm has had some rough times the past few months. A former antitrust associate at the firm slapped Howrey with a $30 million discrimination suit last week, claiming that she was fired after complaining about workplace harassment. In December former IP associate Elizabeth Fontaine was involved in a tragic murder-suicide that claimed the lives of Fontaine, her two young daughters, and their grandmother.

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