Seven lawyers made redundant as the US downturn continues to hit Silicon Valley the hardest
Seattle-based firm Perkins Coie is the latest to lay off corporate lawyers in Silicon Valley as a result of a lack of work. In the first-ever round of layoffs for the firm, seven associates have been asked to leave. Silicon Valley is the only Perkins office to be affected and the firm said that none of the redundancies are performance-related. The seven departures represent just 1 per cent of the firm’s lawyers and 13 per cent of the workforce in Silicon Valley. There are around 27 corporate lawyers remaining in the office. The firm’s Bay Area managing partner Edward Wes said: “This is a relatively small layoff compared to other firms. There’s been nobody here that we’ve laid off for performance reasons, it’s just the economy. There’s been a terrible decline in work due to the technology recession and 11 September - we just didn’t have enough work to keep our lawyers busy.” The redundancies follow a raft of layoffs sweeping the Valley, which kicked off in August when Cooley God-ward shed 86 associates. Other Valley firms, including Fenwick & West, Venture Law Group and Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian, followed suit.
“There’s been nobody here that we’ve laid off for performance reasons - it’s just the economy” Edward Wes, Perkins Coie
The cuts reached new heights last week when The Lawyer revealed the downturn had started hitting New York firms - Shearman & Sterling is cutting 10 per cent of its lawyers. Wes said he did not expect the rest of his firm to be as badly hit by the downturn. “The rest of our firm is more diversified and better equipped to cope with this - it’s just in this office that we are focused on technology,” he said. The people who are leaving all handle venture capital work - the Silicon Valley office also has a strong intellectual property and patent litigation practice which is unaffected by the slowdown. In July, the firm took over Silicon Valley patent prosecution boutique Iota Pi Law Group to ramp up its practice. It is continuing to hire into the area. The office does a lot of work for start up technology companies and for more developed technology companies, with clients including Yahoo!. The firm has offices in Hong Kong and Beijing, as well as 12 across North America. One of its biggest firmwide clients is airline giant Boeing. Wes said: “This firm has never laid off before, and frankly, we’ve waited longer than most people to consider that layoffs are necessary.”