Minneapolis legal giant Dorsey & Whitney said Wednesday it laid off 20 members of its support staff, including 12 in the downtown headquarters.

The workforce reduction is part of a periodic review of firm needs in light of technology enhancements and services provided to clients, said Dorsey partner and spokesman Bryn Vaaler.

"Like any other business we have to make sure we're operating as effectively and efficiently as possible," Vaaler said. "As technology changes, some positions don't make economic sense anymore."

No lawyers were cut in the review.

Dorsey, with 2011 revenue of $323.5 million, has 557 lawyers plus support staff that now totals 637. Vaaler noted that the reduction amounted to 1.6 percent of Dorsey's workforce.

"You hate to see your friends go, but it's part of doing business," Vaaler said. "You need to be as lean and mean as you can be."

The layoffs come as Dorsey faces a tough economy, some lawyer defections and a couple of years of declining revenue. With fewer bodies, the firm is even shopping around for a smaller office space, managing partner Marianne Short acknowledged earlier this year.

Besides the 12 in Minneapolis, other layoffs were in its offices in California, Hong Kong, New York, Salt Lake City and Seattle.