Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich has become the latest Silcon Valley firm to announce staff layoffs
Last week the firm took the final decision to axe 46 associates and 68 staff. Last summer, Gray Cary froze associate salaries in an attempt to stave off redundancies, but in the current economic climate it just was not enough to protect jobs. For the associates who are kept on, first years will see their base pay reduced from $135,000 (£93,500) to $125,000 (£86,600). Associates with more than two years service will get three months severance; those with less will get two months. However, employment prospects are bleak because very few firms are hiring in the Valley. According to Gray Cary chairman Terence O'Malley, the cuts will fall most heavily on the firm's corporate and transactional lawyers. A massive 14 per cent of associates have been axed. The Palo Alto office has been hit particularly hard and is expected to lose more than 10 per cent of its total staff. The 450-lawyer firm has relations with a number of UK firms, including Taylor Joynson Garrett and Osborne Clarke. Cooley Godward started the trend last August - it became the first firm to lay off associates when it axed 86 lawyers. However, a raft of Valley firms have followed suit, including Fenwick & West, Venture Law Group, Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian and Perkins Coie. Brobeck Phleger & Harrison just managed to avoid layoffs by offering associate buyout packages, which 82 lawyers accepted.