K&L Gates has ended several weeks of speculation by announcing a round of layoffs across its US and UK practices.

The expansionist firm, which posted the highest growth rate among any top 30 US firm last year after a series of law firm acquisitions, is laying off 121 people. The layoffs include 42 associates, six of whom are in London. It is not yet clear which practice groups have been affected.

“We’ve had to adopt measures to strike a balance between the size of our workforce and the demand for certain of our services,” said Peter Kalis, K&L Gates’ chairman. “For the affected individuals, there’s little that can be said here that’ll not ring hollow.”

Kalis added that the reductions represent 4.9 per cent of his firm’s associate lawyers and 4.3 per cent of its staff.

News of the K&L Gates layoffs, which first broke on US legal blog Abovethelaw.com, had been expected for some time following widespread layoffs in the US market and the firm’s rapid expansion last year.

During 2008, K&L Gates grew revenue by 27 per cent due to its strategy of aggressive expansion which included bolting on 150-lawyer Texas-based firm Hughes & Luce, 175-lawyer Charlotte-based Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman and Taiwanese nine-lawyer firm J&J Attorneys-at-law (2 March).

K&L Gates’ most recent acquisition, 250-lawyer Chicago-based Bell Boyd & Lloyd, became effective on 1 March this year.