The Washington Post

Patton Boggs dismisses 10 lawyers and 35 staffers in a second round of cuts

Washington law and lobbying powerhouse Patton Boggs has dismissed 10 lawyers and 35 staffers, the second round of reductions the firm has made year.

The latest departures are intended to save the firm $5.5 million in salary and benefits. The affected attorneys are associates in the firm’s New Jersey office; the staffers are spread across the firm’s 10 offices in the United States and the Middle East. The firm said the reductions were part of a larger plan to adjust staffing ratios.

“The changes we have been making are part of an overall plan we unveiled several months ago to address changing client needs and market conditions,” a Patton Boggs spokesman said in a written statement. “As a result of these tough decisions, we are becoming far stronger financially.”

Patton Boggs’ revenue dropped 6.5 percent from $339.7 million in 2011 to $317.4 million in 2012. But the firm is still earning more lobbying revenue than any other lobby shop, reporting $30.7 million in lobbying fees for the first nine months of the year. That figure, though, is down 14 percent compared to the same period last year.

Starting last year, the firm began gradually implementing cuts, asking certain partners to improve their performance or leave. In March, the firm dismissed 65 attorneys and staff, including 23 in Washington, which managing partner Ed Newberry said at the time was part of a “right-sizing” move that would save $14.7 million. Because Patton Boggs had fared well during the height of the recession — partly from its work defending the city of New York against health-related claims related to the World Trade Center attacks — it avoided having to make the dramatic staff and attorney cuts that most other major law firms were doing at the time.

Over the summer, more than 30 lawyers left the firm, including a number of key partners with profitable practices in areas including energy, litigation, antitrust and health and safety. They included 24 energy attorneys in the firm’s Dallas office who left together to join Holland & Knight, and a group of health and safety lawyers who departed to Jackson Lewis in Washington and Denver.

In August, the managing partner of Patton Boggs’ New Jersey office, litigator John McGahren, left to join Morgan Lewis. McCahren had helped lead the Patton Boggs team on the World Trade Center litigation; the case settled last year, bringing an end to a significant stream of revenue for the firm.

The firm has since added new lawyers in Washington, Denver, Dallas and New York in areas including litigation, infrastructure and corporate finance.

Patton Boggs is now in talks to merge with Texas-based law firm Locke Lord.

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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