Orrick cuts 6% of global workforce

West Coast heavyweight blames subdued market and ‘impact of technology, data and the evolving workplace’
Image of Orrick name on the side of a skyscraper

Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, San Francisco Shutterstock

Top 35 US firm Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe is cutting about 6% of its global workforce in a move it is putting down to the subdued market as well as the “impact of technology, data and the evolving workplace”.

The San Francisco-based firm is the latest tech-focused practice to announce cuts, reflecting the impact of a dramatic slowing of the tech market in the second half of 2022 after a sustained boom. 

Orrick said both lawyers and staff were affected by the measure which it believed was “the most fair and transparent way to advance our strategy and ensure we have ample work opportunities for our team”.

Around 40 associates and 50 staff members are understood to be affected across the majority of practice areas and locations. 

The Orrick statement said: “The action is a response to a convergence of market forces: reduced client demand in some areas related to market uncertainty and the impact of technology, data and the evolving workplace on the type of support we need to serve our clients and operate our firm.

“Affected colleagues have contributed meaningfully to our firm – this is not a reflection on any individual – and we will support them with a transition package.”

The firm is also reportedly deferring its incoming associate class until mid-January 2024. 

West Coast rival Cooley became the first prominent law firm to announce large-scale cuts last December, when the firm said it would axe 150 US employees including almost 80 attorneys. 

Then, in January, Goodwin Procter said ‘approximately 5%’ of its ‘timekeeper’ and operations personnel had been affected by a round of cuts.

Other firms known to have cut staff include Dechert, Shearman & Sterling, Davis Wright Tremaine, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan and Kirkland & Ellis, although Kirkland characterised its letting go of associates as “performance-based decisions” resulting from its attorney review process rather than layoffs.

In January, Orrick added around 100 lawyers to its roster through a merger with Washington DC-based law firm Buckley, a move intended to boost its regulatory and enforcement offering for its finance and tech clients that also saw it gain a new office in Chicago. 

It saw revenue growth slow from 14.2% in 2021 to 4.8%, when it hit $1.38bn.

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