The drumbeat of layoffs at large and mid-sized law firms has been slow and steady for months. But for the most part, IP boutiques have not been reporting these staffing cuts…until yesterday when IP boutique Townsend and Townsend and Crew announced a layoff. In a memo sent around to firm employees (published in AbovetheLaw) the chairman raised the fact that patent filings were down in the first quarter of 2009 and clients are scaling back their spending.
As IP services have become more commoditized, its actually surprising that there have not been more announcements like this. Firms are really facing the combined effects of a down economy (which is causing companies to be more judicious in their IP spending) with the fact that before the current slowdown, corporate counsel were already demanding lower fees for prosecution and related work.