Reed Smith, a prominent global law firm originally founded in Pittsburgh, has recently joined the growing list of large firms that have implemented layoffs since last year. According to a spokesperson’s statement on Wednesday, Reed Smith made “a limited number of reductions affecting lawyers and professional staff totaling less than 2% of its workforce.” The affected workers were notified of the decision on Friday.
The spokesperson attributed the layoffs to a decrease in demand for legal services across the industry. The American Lawyer reported that the reduction affected approximately 20 staff members and 30 lawyers in various practice areas, including corporate and bankruptcy. Anonymous sources provided these details.
Another major law firm, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, announced on Tuesday that it would be laying off approximately 40 associates and 50 staff members, accounting for around 6% of its global workforce. Additionally, Orrick deferred the start date for its incoming first-year associates, a move similar to that of several technology sector-focused law firms.
LEARN MORE ON THIS WEBINAR: Job Insecurity: Stay or Seek? Navigating Layoffs and Career Choices
In contrast, Reed Smith confirmed last week that its incoming class of first-year associates would begin their roles as scheduled in October. However, the spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday to confirm whether this plan remains unchanged.
Since November, several other large law firms, including Cooley, Dechert, Goodwin Procter, and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, have also made layoffs affecting attorneys, staff, or both. These actions are a response to the softened demand for legal services that firms are currently facing.
Throughout 2021 and early 2022, many large firms experienced a surge in client demand for corporate deals and other legal work, leading to rapid hiring. The global M&A market reached unprecedented levels during this period. However, as the deal-making environment has cooled down, firms are now grappling with a decline in demand.
Reed Smith, with approximately 1,700 lawyers in its ranks, underwent leadership changes earlier this year. Alexander (Sandy) Thomas, the former global managing partner and executive committee chair, stepped down to pursue a position at a nonprofit organization. Casey Ryan, formerly the firm’s global head of legal personnel, took over as the new top leader on March 1. The firm recently announced the other members of its new senior management team.
The current layoffs and workforce reductions at Reed Smith highlight the challenges faced by law firms as they navigate the evolving legal landscape. These firms must adapt to fluctuations in client demand while ensuring their workforce aligns with the current market conditions. The ongoing adjustments in the industry reflect the broader impact of economic changes on the legal sector.
Don’t be a silent ninja! Drop a comment and let your opinion shine.