Wiley Rein, one of Washington’s largest law firms, has cut a combined 48 attorneys and staff — 18 partners and of counsel, 18 secretaries and 12 administrative support staff.
The reductions represent about 9 percent of the firm’s overall workforce, based on figures compiled by The Washington Post in 2014. The firm declined to confirm the percentage of its workforce that had been cut, but as of 2014, the firm had 516 employees, including 278 attorneys.
Wiley Rein was co-founded by former Federal Communications Commission chairman Richard Wiley and is best known for its telecommunications work. It is one of the only large homegrown Washington firms that has remained exclusively in the D.C. area and has not expanded by opening offices nationally or internationally. All of the firm’s employees work in Washington and McLean.
The job reductions do not affect associates or employees of McBee Strategic, the lobby and consulting shop that operates as a subsidiary of the law firm. The reductions were reported March 26 by the legal blog Above the Law.
In a statement issued the next day, Wiley Rein managing partner Peter Shields said the firm began a “thorough, year-long business review” at the beginning of 2014 that resulted in a new strategic plan.
“As part of this process, and in response to changes in client demand in certain areas, we needed to take steps to ensure our professional and staff resources were aligned with our strategic and practice area goals,” Shields said in the statement. “As a result of this comprehensive effort, we decided to take this difficult step to ensure the firm continues to grow strategically.”
The cuts are the latest in a series of major structural changes at Wiley Rein. Last November, the firm cut ties with its six-attorney bankruptcy practice, a small but well-known group that had previously represented the defunct law firm Howrey in bankruptcy. The majority of that group has since joined Nelson Mullins. Weeks later, Wiley Rein announced it would acquire McBee Strategic, a $10 million-a-year lobby and consulting shop. The move was a notable departure from Wiley’s roots in government contracts, telecommunications, insurance, trade and other regulatory work. Both changes were part of the firm’s new strategic plan, firm leaders said at the time.