A dejected Peter J. Riley (pictured) just called with some bad (but all too common these days) news: On Tuesday, Thompson & Knight laid off for economic reasons 17 lawyers and 25 support staff in all of its U.S. offices, including Dallas, Houston, New York, Fort Worth and Austin. “It’s no fun,” Riley says. All of the lawyers are associates -- only two of them are first years -- who practiced in real estate or other business-related areas that require bank money to operate. “It was mostly mid-level associates in business areas. And I’d say it was a one-third real estate and two-thirds more corporate general business,” Riley says. “These are good lawyers. It’s like a rifle shot went through all our law firms, and the financing groups just stopped. We are doing transactions, but man, it’s nothing like it was.” But not all of the firm's’ practices are doing badly by a long shot, Riley says. “There are areas of our firm like IP litigation that are going crazy. But the business model has been changing, and we have been changing with it,” he says. “This economic change that occurred in the fall is affecting certain types of business -- it’s really affected financing. We just made a very hard decision that it was going to take too long for the financing business to come back,” he says. Like many other Texas firms, Thompson & Knight is also pushing back its first year class from starting in October and November to starting on January 19, 2010, Riley says.
-- John Council