Orrick axes 40 lawyers; London gets off lightly

Orrick Herrington & ­Sutcliffe is the latest US firm to announce layoffs, with 40 associates across its real estate, structured finance and corporate practices set to leave the firm.

Two associate jobs and one support staff post are at risk in the firm’s London office. Across the network 35 business services jobs are also expected to go.

Orrick chairman Ralph Baxter told The Lawyer: “We really wanted to see
if we could avoid this ­situation. When it was clear that no matter what we were doing the world and economic conditions weren’t going to turn back around, we decided to look at ­specific parts of the practice that were suffering.”

The layoffs have been announced just one month after the firm hired a group of 30 partners and 15 ­associates from dissolved firm Heller Ehrman.

Baxter ;said: ;“The ­partners we hired from Heller are in a completely ­different practice area. Apart from three partners in the London corporate team, ;the ;rest ;are ;in ­litigation.

“We saw this as a great opportunity for Orrick, and despite economic conditions we remain bullish with our investment opportunities.”

Baxter added that some parts of the corporate group, such as the early-stage ­technology sector, were still doing well and that he expected a strong 2009.