Orricks Hire – Orricks Fire

Afer just recruiting partners from failed San Francisco practice Heller Ehrmann the Chairman of Orricks is defending the firm’s decision to …

 fire 40 associates yesterday

It’s like comparing apples and oranges, chairman Ralph Baxter told the Am Law Daily. The hirings and the layoffs provide “a focused picture of Orrick. We’re bullish about the future, bullish about the role of lawyers in global finance, and we are boldly taking action to diversify Orrick’s practice. All of the Heller lawyers who joined us were in practice areas that are litigation-oriented. Compared with the layoffs, it’s apples and oranges. They are mostly partners, and they bring business with them.”


The ABA Journal tells us that

Orrick hired 27 Heller partners and one senior counsel in the United States, including 13 who focus on antitrust, five insurance recovery practitioners and four intellectual property lawyers. Orrick also hired the core of Heller’s corporate legal team in the United Kingdom after several other law firms rejected the idea.

The 40 associates who were laid off were in the firm’s real estate, structured finance and corporate practices. The firm also cut 35 staffers.

Orrick will pay the ousted lawyers and staffers five months of severance pay and subsidize their insurance coverage. Baxter told Law Blog yesterday that the layoffs were a last resort. He elaborated about the firm’s cost-cutting measures in the interview with the Am Law Daily.

The firm cut all nonessential travel and postponed biannual meetings for each practice group, he said. It also stopped all associate hiring and postponed hiring for some staff positions. And it shifted some lawyers to other practice areas. The cost savings were substantial, but not enough to avoid layoffs, he said.

“It all amounted to a lot of money, but when it was all said and done, the numbers told us we still had a problem,
” he told the Am Law Daily. “In this economy, no practice area is so robust it’s just bursting at the seams.”




The Times Online (UK) also reports

Half of the cuts will be in the firm’s US offices with the remainder divided equally between Asia and Europe.


As yet we have no specifics as to who will be leaving the firm in Asia


The Times report adds..

Orrick, which has 1,000 lawyers, said: “Throughout 2008, we have done all we could have done to avoid today’s action: we have redeployed lawyers to different practices and we have cut expenses.

“Unfortunately, our staffing levels in the affected practices still remained too high given the economic environment our clients and we face. The three affected practice areas, however, continue their roles as important financial and strategic contributors.”

Last month, Orrick hired a group of almost 30 lawyers from dissolved firm Heller Ehrman. In 2007, it announced plans to merge with New York-based Dewey Ballantine but the union was later abandoned.

Orrick said the current job losses were driven by global business conditions and were not performance related.