For once news of a Layoff is Funny.

Discussion in 'The Powder Keg' started by Doglips, Apr 27, 2002.

  1. Doglips

    Doglips Guest

    By Mark Silva | Sentinel Staff Writer
    Posted April 27, 2002

    TALLAHASSEE -- Florida's largest law firm, Holland and Knight, plans to lay off dozens of attorneys next week in a far-reaching streamlining after a decade of expansion, according to sources inside the firm.

    Insiders have heard that as many as 75 lawyers and a number of support staff could lose their jobs.

    The law firm's retrenchment will not pass unnoticed in the governor's race, where Democrat Bill McBride presents himself as "the only one who has run a business and met a payroll" -- as Holland and Knight's managing partner for nearly a decade. McBride left the law firm last summer to run for governor.

    McBride has touted his business experience: Managing the firm that employed 277 lawyers in nine Florida offices in 1992 when he assumed command and now employs 1,250 nationwide and on three other continents.

    The national accounting firm of Deloitte and Touche has been examining the firm's structure for months.

    Robert Feagin, Tallahassee and Chicago-based managing partner, would not comment Friday. But the law firm released a statement: "For some time, we have been reviewing our business operation. That process has not been completed and it would be premature at this time to speculate on any decisions. When decisions are final, we will . . . notify lawyers and staff of any changes."

    The realignment of Holland and Knight is inevitable after a decade of mergers with firms in other states, longtime lawyers said Friday.

    Some complain the firm is overextended. In a Jan. 21 memo obtained by the Miami Daily Business Review, attorney Martin Jaron, of the firm's Virginia office, wrote: "As the firm's financial situation has gone from bad to worse over the past two years partner confidence in the firm's expansion-driven model, direction and management is low and cynicism about the future is high."

    McBride, refraining from commenting on internal operations today, says he is "enormously proud of the firm."

    "We created a global organization," McBride said Friday. But economic circumstances have changed since he left last year. When asked about reported cutbacks he said, "If I was managing partner today, I might be doing the same thing."

    "A lot of this [reorganization] was caused by the rapid growth that McBride helped do," according to one Holland and Knight attorney, who asked that his name not be used. "When Bill left that was sort of a sign of the end of that growth."

    Roughly half the cutbacks are expected among the firm's 11 Florida offices, insiders say, and half will affect attorneys stationed among 14 other offices nationwide. The firm employs 140 attorneys in the Tampa area, 111 in Miami and 70 in Orlando.

    The firm also operates in Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Israel, Finland and Japan.

    As the firm merged with firms in other cities, attorneys say, conflicts among clients had to be reconciled and a sorting out of lawyers, some more productive than others, was unavoidable.