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Goodwin Procter Axes Lawyers, Staff Amid Demand Slowdowns (1)

Jan. 5, 2023, 9:38 PMUpdated: Jan. 5, 2023, 10:59 PM

Goodwin Procter is laying off associates, paralegals, and other professional staff across its offices amid a slowdown in legal work following historic demand a year earlier.

Staffing levels at the firm were deemed “too high for our current and projected demand,” according to an internal memo viewed by Bloomberg Law. The decision means a 5% reduction in the timekeeper and business operation population, according to the memo.

The move follows layoffs at other major and tech-focused firms such as Kirkland & Ellis, Cooley, and Gunderson Dettmer, along with staff reductions and hiring freezes at major tech companies.

The Boston-founded firm is best known for advising emerging companies, and has invested in opening offices in new areas where tech-oriented companies, often startups, have set up shop.

Goodwin made its staff cuts unrelated to work performance, avoiding so-called “stealth layoffs.”

“We are purposefully choosing to be transparent and conduct a reduction in force, rather than engage in reductions through our performance management process,” the firm wrote in the memo.

Goodwin is one of several tech-geared firms whose profits skyrocketed amid last year’s unprecedented demand. The firm brought in roughly $2 billion in gross revenue and nearly $6 million in profits per equity partner in 2021, according to The American Lawyer.

Goodwin led an aggressive recruitment campaign to meet the historic demand in mergers and acquisitions and capital market work last year, hiring nearly 300 lateral associates.

But the boom in capital markets and merger and acquisition work over the last two years cooled, leaving junior lawyers with less work in 2022.

Cooley trimmed 78 attorneys and 72 paralegals and business personnel through its US offices, mirroring the cost-cutting moves taken by Big Tech clients the law firm is known for representing. Silicon Valley-based Gunderson Dettmer delayed start dates for its newest crop of incoming associates.

(Adds firm, layoff details starting in fourth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Tiana Headley at theadley@bloombergindustry.com; Meghan Tribe in New York at mtribe@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com