Patton Boggs lays off 45 as revenue slumps

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

The latest departures are intended to save the firm $5.5 million in salary and benefits. The affected attorneys are associates in Patton Boggs’s New Jersey office, and the staffers are spread across 10 offices in the United States and the Middle East. The firm said in a statement that the reductions are part of a larger plan to adjust staffing ratios and that “as a result of these tough decisions, we are becoming far stronger financially.”

Patton Boggs’s revenue dropped 6.5 percent, to $317.4 million, in 2012 from $339.7 million in 2011.

But the firm still earns more lobbying revenue than other lobby shops, reporting $30.7 million in lobbying fees for the first nine months of the year. That figure, though, is down 14 percent compared with the same period last year.

Starting last year, the firm gradually began implementing cuts. In March, it dismissed 65 lawyers 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. Over the summer, more than 30 lawyers left the firm.

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

— Catherine Ho

Amtrak losing money on meal service

Amtrak, the U.S. taxpayer-supported passenger railroad, is losing tens of millions of dollars a year on food and beverage service even after years of cutting costs, its inspector general said.

Almost all of last year’s $72 million in food-service losses were from providing meals on long-distance trains, Inspector General Ted Alves said in testimony at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing Thursday. Contracting out some functions has the greatest potential to stem losses, he said.

“Amtrak’s operating losses on food and beverage services have been a long-standing issue, and they contribute directly to the need for federal subsidies to support operations,” Alves said.

Alves outlined a number of ways for the railroad to reduce waste and cut costs, from contracting out operations to reducing theft and food spoilage.

Amtrak’s Auto Train between Virginia and Florida offers passengers complimentary wine and cheese, and three long- distance routes provide complimentary wine and champagne to sleeper-car passengers, Alves said, which cost Amtrak $428,000 in 2012. Amtrak employees traveling on free passes consumed about $260,000 in complimentary meals on the Auto Train, he said.

“Somehow, some of this has to be revised,” said Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.), the government operations subcommittee chair.

— Bloomberg News

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