White & Case Lays Off 70 Associates, 100 staff

Hugh VerrierFrom the AmLaw Daily Blog:

White & Case said it will lay off about 3 percent of its global legal and staff head count as part of a review of firm operations in light of the economic downturn.

The layoffs, first reported on the blog Above the Law, will affect about 70 associates and 100 staffers, spokesman Nicholas Clarke says.

"We are living in a time of unique economic challenges, and well-managed, successful businesses, including White & Case, must assess their operations in light of current market realities," chairman Hugh Verrier said in a statement. "We believe this is a necessary step to adjust to the global economic downturn and to ensure a strong, long-term future for the firm."

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The cuts affect all of White & Case's U.S. offices and its London outpost, Clarke says. The firm has offices in Los Angeles, New York, Palo Alto, Miami, and Washington, D.C. Following the layoffs, the firm will employ roughly 4,900 lawyers and nonlegal staff.

Despite the layoffs, White & Case insisted in its statement that it "anticipates a strong 2008, with significant revenue growth across our globally diverse network." Clarke says net income is also up year-to-date. White & Case posted $1.373 billion in gross revenue in 2007, with profits per partner of $1.67 million.

Nevertheless, the firm said it was "exercising prudent business judgment" in anticipation of a weakened global economy in 2009.

The layoffs follow the closure last month of White & Case's Dresden and Milan outposts. Those closures affected 20 lawyers. The firm has also retained consulting firm McKinsey & Company to conduct a review of its global business. Clarke says neither the office closures nor the hiring of McKinsey are related to the layoffs.

White & Case says the layoffs are in part driven by a decline in attrition rates. It also says those being asked to leave will receive a "competitive" severance package. Clarke declined to provide more details on the package.

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