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Mayer Brown continues to hemorrhage lawyers, despite what the Chicago law firm says are "encouraging signs" for 2010.

The international firm said Thursday that laid off 28 lawyers in its U.S. offices, which represents 3 percent of the approximately 925 U.S. lawyers. The layoffs did not affect partners, only associates and lawyers known as "counsel" who are not on partnership track.

Mayer Brown also reduced its administrative staff by 47 people.

This is the third job reduction since November 2008 at Mayer Brown. The two previous rounds affected at least 78 lawyers. The firm blamed the previous downsizing on the recession, which cut demand for legal services. It said Thursday that demand has bounced back but not enough. In addition, voluntary attrition has dropped, meaning that the firm was overstaffed compared to anticipated demand for legal services this year.

"Although most of our practices are performing well, overall demand for legal services has not recovered fully, and in today's tight legal job market, voluntary lawyer departures have been significantly lower than our normal levels," Chairman Bert Krueger said in an e-mail to U.S. offices. A Mayer spokesman provided a copy of the e-mail but declined further comment.

The layoffs come as Mayer Brown partners are scheduled to gather in Chicago later this month for the firm's annual meeting.

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