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November 15, 2010 5:02 PM

DLA Piper Latest Firm to 'Right-Size'

Posted by Brian Baxter

Only a few days after Howrey slashed 32 support staffers from its U.S. payroll, DLA Piper has followed up with layoffs of its own. The firm confirmed to Above the Law on Friday that it had trimmed an undisclosed number of staffers from its offices in 26 U.S. cities. (ATL reports that the layoffs include, but are not limited to, DLA's Baltimore and Sacramento offices.)

"It is important for us at DLA Piper to ensure that our resources, including support staff, are right-sized in order for us to maximize the performance of our firm," said a statement by DLA chief operating officer and director of U.S. operations Bob Bratt. "We believe we have an optimal level of support staff to assist our lawyers in delivering the world-class legal services for which our clients rely on us."

The head count reductions at DLA started two years ago when the firm let go of five tech lawyers from its overseas offices. The firm then terminated 80 lawyers and 100 staff members in February 2009 and let go of another 21 associates and 100 staffers the following summer. (Within those layoffs were 20 lawyers and 34 staffers from DLA's Asian operations and at least eight associates in Dubai.)

According to the latest Am Law 100 financial data, DLA's U.S. arm saw its gross revenue fall nearly 14 percent to roughly $1 billion in 2009. Revenue per lawyer dipped 5.3 percent to $810,000, while profits per partner decreased 5 percent to $1.2 million. The firm also saw the size of its equity partnership shrink 10 percent in 2009.

Last month The National Law Journal, a sibling publication, reported on a National Association of Law Placement study finding that more than half of law firm recruiting and professional development departments had lost employees through staff cuts. According to data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the legal services sector lost 300 jobs in October.

Nonetheless, DLA has committed itself to helping its former staffers find new work.

"We are working with those affected by this right-sizing to assist them with outplacement services that will support them with their transition and work with them to identify new employment opportunities," concluded Bratt's statement.

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Does this outplacement service engage finding staffers jobs in India? Because, that's where the jobs are going

The jobs in India comment highlights the reality of a world economy. One must keep one's skills sharp and regularly add to them. This is what we'll all have to do in order to keep our jobs or make our own jobs.

My learned friend, your globalisation argument is redundant and misguided. Globalisation works when both markets (India&US) are open for business. Sadly, the India legal market is not open to U.S law firms. Nor is their labour market. Therefore, its India's gain at America's expense.(which is unemployment/loss of tax revenues/and more people using social benefits) Stuart, you should have learned that the recent financial crisis illustrates that the fee market or its proxy - globalisation - is not a perfect absolute. Free markets work where both Markets are open - equally for business and labour markets are open - and everyone has the same information or can make the same choice. Therefore, your argument would have strength if U.S unemployed paralegals could relocate to India or if U.S law firms could do business in India. Which, currently is not the case! This is basic Econ101.

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