The Washington Post

Patton Boggs lays off 65 attorneys and staff; 23 in Washington

International law firm Patton Boggs, which houses Washington’s largest and most profitable lobby shop, dismissed 65 lawyers and staff this week — including 23 in its Washington office, managing partner Ed Newberry said Friday.

Of the 65 layoffs firmwide, 30 are attorneys and 35 are non-attorneys that include a public policy adviser, paralegals and secretaries, Newberry said. The firm did not let go any partners, though Newberry said the firm “will make adjustments to partner headcount over time.”

In Washington, four associates, three staff attorneys and 16 non-attorneys — including one public policy adviser — were dismissed.

The decision was approved by the law firm’s executive committee on Feb. 13, and the affected attorneys and staff were notified Thursday. They will receive three months severance.

The layoffs, which Newberry said will save an estimated $14.7 million, were reported earlier by Reuters. Patton Boggs has 550 lawyers firmwide, and 120 lobbyists.

Unlike most large national law firms, Patton Boggs did not make mass layoffs during the recession, and the decision to reduce headcount now is to “right-size” expenses and protect profitability, Newberry said.

“While other firms were experiencing substantial declines in demand, we were seeing substantial increases in demand on the back of a single large client that was ramping up at that time,” Newberry said in an interview. “That allowed us to avoid the painful reduction other firms took at that time. Now, several years later, that big case and a couple others are in a wind-down phase. We’re seeing the decline in demand that others saw previously, and we’ve taken these prudent steps to align headcount and expenses with revenue in light of the decline we’re seeing in those major clients.”

Newberry declined to name the clients, saying only that they involved major litigation matters in New Jersey and Texas that have since settled.

The firm’s revenue dropped from $339.7 million in 2011 to $317.4 million in 2012, a 6.5 percent decline.

“The declines reflected many factors,” Newberry said. “Payment patterns of clients have changed. Some are insisting on bigger discounts, or paying more slowly.”

Catherine Ho covers lobbying at The Washington Post. She previously worked at the LA Daily Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Detroit Free Press, the Wichita Eagle and the San Mateo County Times.



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