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US firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius has responded to the sluggish economy by laying off 50 associates.
The cutbacks will mainly hit the firm's transactional practice, with some losses coming from the litigation and employment groups. Managing partner of the firm's Washington DC office Michael Kelly said that 15 of the 50 will go from his office. He added that offices in Philadelphia, New York and Los Angeles will also be affected. Partners, too, could feel the effects of the slowdown. Kelly admitted that the point values used to calculate equity partner compensation will be lower than last year. Points are expected to fall by between 5 and 10 per cent. Explaining the need to make cuts, Kelly conceded that Morgan Lewis had been overly optimistic in predicting the rate of client demand. Business continued to grow throughout the year, but not to a level high enough to meet the firm's estimates. Kelly stated that, as a result of this imbalance, the firm's management committee realised that a business decision to rationalise numbers had to be made. The initial public offering work that had become a driving force for the corporate practice dwindled. Morgan Lewis was left with more associates than were necessary to meet client demand, particularly in the areas of venture capital and emerging growth. Morgan Lewis's London senior partner Charles Lubar said that the decisions made in the US will have no knock-on effect in the UK. He was pragmatic about the US situation. "Some practice areas are extremely busy and some are not," he commented.