Cooley Axes Corporate Associates as tech sector struggles
Cooley LLP, the tech-focused law firm known for advising Silicon Valley’s biggest players, has laid off a group of corporate associates as demand for work slows.
A spokesperson for Cooley confirmed that an unknown number of associates had been terminated.
“The firm concluded its annual partner performance review process mid-year last summer,” the spokesperson said. “All lawyer separations that have occurred to date are the result of this process.”
Three sources close to the situation described the cuts as “layoffs” unrelated to performance. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said many of those fired were junior Northern California associates.
The century-old law firm headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., is best known for advising start-up companies, many of which have become giants. The move comes amid reports of downsizing and hiring freezes at major tech companies, including Cooley clients Twitter, Inc., Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook and Apple, Inc.
Cooley is among the top law firms to benefit from a deal boom during the pandemic, reporting nearly $2 billion in gross revenue and more than $4 million in profit per financial partner last year, according to The American Lawyer.
Cooley also took an aggressive stance in the recruiting war that accompanied the increase in work, picking up partners and associates from competing companies at a brisk pace. This includes hiring in-demand associates in locations away from company offices with the promise of full-time remote work.
Slowing demand and recession fears are now causing law firms to tighten their belts. Gunderson Dettmer, another tech-focused company with roots in Silicon Valley, recently delayed start dates for its new generation of incoming associates.
M&A deals were down nearly 29% in the first three quarters of this year compared to the same period last year. Initial public offerings – another lucrative practice area for law firms – fell 90% over the same period.
Twitter, whose new boss Elon Musk criticized Cooley, laid off nearly half of its employees last week. Meta is expected to lay off thousands of workers this week, according to the Wall Street Journal. Apple, meanwhile, is freezing hiring in several of its business units.