Baltimore law firm Piper & Marbury plans to eliminate between 20 and 25 jobs in its Baltimore office to make the firm more efficient, its chairman said yesterday.
No attorneys would be laid off, according to partner Decatur H. Miller, who said the decision to cut back staffing came at the firm's annual partners retreat this past weekend.
"It's not a reaction to a recessionary climate, although I have to say that in a recessionary climate the pressures are greater to get yourself at the right staffing level," Mr. Miller said. Piper employs about 300 non-lawyers in Baltimore.
"It would be a big mistake to see this one as reflecting poor health on the part of the firm," he stressed, adding that the firm decided to elect eight new partners during the weekend session.
Mr. Miller's assertions came in the context of recent events at some large law firms in Baltimore.
Frank, Bernstein, Conaway & Goldman collapsed in June from the weight of financial problems. Many of its partners and associates ended up at Piper, which has four offices and 265 attorneys, including 200 in the Baltimore office.
Last month, Semmes, Bowen & Semmes laid off nine associates, citing a downturn in business because of the recession.
And last week, Weinberg & Green let 10 associates go, according to The Daily Record. Weinberg's managing partner, Howard B. Miller, did not return calls yesterday.
Weinberg & Green lost another prominent attorney yesterday, as bankruptcy partner Earl F. Leitess moved to Levin & Gann P.A. of Baltimore.
Mr. Leitess, who had been with Weinberg for 29 years and once headed the firm's banking and commercial law department, will chair Levin & Gann's financial services department. He said yesterday that he left Weinberg because his work with out-of-state financial institutions, a large share of his clientele, increasingly placed him in conflict with other Weinberg banking clients.
Stanford Hess, who chairs Weinberg's banking section, agreed. fTC With the recession, he said, bankruptcies have increased, and Weinberg's representation of the Maryland Bankers Association has brought more local banks onto its client list.
"You can't be in the position where you're both claiming the same collateral," Mr. Hess said of Mr. Leitess' conflicts.
He did not know how many attorneys at his firm had been laid off.