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McDermott Will & Emery LLP has laid off 60 attorneys and 89 staff members, becoming the latest Chicago law firm to retrench amid a sharp decline in business.

In an internal memo sent to employees Tuesday, Chairman Harvey Freishtat said the firm performed well last year and remains strong as it moves into 2009.

"However, we are not immune to the continued deterioration in market conditions," Freishtat said. "The business of our clients has slowed, and this has affected our own levels of activity, particularly in the transactional area."

The cut represents about 5 percent of the firm's 1,100 lawyers in 15 offices. It was not known how many lawyers received pink slips in the Chicago office. The firm declined to comment beyond the memo.

The blog "Above the Law" first reported McDermott's layoffs.



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