Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner Implements Staff Reductions Amidst Industry-wide Layoffs

In response to shifting demands within the legal sector, international law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner has announced the layoff of 47 business services professionals across its global offices. The firm, which boasts a roster of approximately 1,275 lawyers across 31 locations, confirmed that 34 positions will be eliminated in the United States, with an additional 13 roles affected in its offices spanning Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Primarily targeting secretarial and administrative positions in the United States, the firm attributed the staff reductions to an evaluation of support ratios, which revealed an excess capacity in these areas. Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner stated that the objective of these cuts is to align its business services population with evolving industry trends, technological advancements, and the firm’s changing requirements.

It is important to note that no attorneys were affected by these layoffs, as clarified by a spokesperson for the firm.

In recent months, various large law firms have undergone similar downsizing efforts as they grapple with reduced demand for legal services. This comes as a consequence of a decline in global M&A activity, following a period of substantial expansion to meet the demands of corporate deal work throughout 2021 and early 2022.

Among the firms implementing layoffs, Dechert stands out, having recently terminated 55 lawyers and 43 business professionals, constituting 5% of its global workforce. According to Dechert leaders, the decision was driven by an assessment of both current and projected demand for their services.

Several other prominent firms, including Cooley, Goodwin Procter, Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian, Lowenstein Sandler, Davis Wright Tremaine, Perkins Coie, Shearman & Sterling, and Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, have also undergone layoffs, affecting lawyers, staff, or both since the autumn season.

As the demand landscape continues to evolve, law firms may be adjusting to a new equilibrium. A recent report by the Thomson Reuters Institute highlighted slower expense growth among large and midsize firms in the first quarter of 2023, along with an increase in demand for countercyclical practices such as litigation and labor and employment.

In 2022, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner reported approximately $845.2 million in gross revenue, reflecting a modest decline of 3.8% compared to the previous year, according to The American Lawyer. The publication also noted that while the top 100 U.S. law firms experienced an average growth of 2.7% in gross revenue last year, profits per equity partner witnessed a dip of 3.7%.

In addition to the staff reductions, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner revealed other strategic decisions, including the hiring of ten partners since January and the establishment of a new Seattle office in April.

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