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by Vault Law Editors | March 05, 2009

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Last night the AmLawDaily released a Top 10 list of the firms that have laid off the highest percentage of their (non-partner) lawyers.  Top chop shop: Orrick, which axed about 20 percent of associates and counsel (though in terms of actual headcount, Latham laid off the most).

The List (with Vault prestige rankings thrown in):

1. Orrick (Vault #37)                  140 (19.86%)  nonpartners cut    
2. Holland & Knight (V65)           70   (15.12%)
3. Cooley Godward   (V59)         52  (12.97%)
4. Bryan Cave (V77)                  58   (11.22%)
5. Latham & Watkins (V7)         190 (10.84%)
6. McDermott Will (V50)             60   (10.64%)
7. Wilson Sonsini (V45)             45   (10.09%)
8. O'Melveny & Myers (V21)       90   (9.53%)
9. Goodwin Procter (V54)           36   (7.41%)
10. Proskauer Rose (V40)          35   (6.39%)

This is sort of a surprising list, dominated by firms with California roots.  As the AmLawDaily notes, ?That's especially striking when you consider that New York sits at the epicenter of the financial meltdown, and New York firms are reputed to be tough and mean.?  Well, like the weather, every California trend eventually makes its way to the rest of the country (e.g., environmentalism, silicone implants, yoga). California has always been the bellwether state, the trendsetter?the canary in the coalmine?  Considering how California is faring during the economic crisis, this is especially disturbing. The state?s pension funds are close to bankruptcy.  The state itself is on the brink.  California law firms? layoff practices are just a footnote to its broader problems and this bodes ill for the rest of us.

                                                       -posted by brian

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