International firm Osborne Clarke has repaid the money it received under the government’s furlough scheme, following a stronger summer than expected.

The practice placed 116 employees on furlough during lockdown, including business support staff and paralegals, in anticipation of a significant reduction in revenue. Staff returned to work on 3 August and Osborne Clarke has now returned the money it received to HM Revenue & Customs.

Managing partner Ray Berg said: ‘As the summer progressed, client instructions, billable hours and cash flow did not reduce to the extent we had feared. We were then pleased to bring back these people and exit the furlough scheme by August 3rd.

‘As we approach our UK half year, while revenue is below our original target which was set pre-Covid 19, it has held up better than we had initially feared.’

He added that the repaid funds have been taken from the firm’s UK profit. ‘It will not have any impact on whether or not we hit our revised 2020/21 financial target,’ he said.

The firm has also said it will repay UK employees their salary reductions from the previous 11 month if they reach their 2020/21 revenue targets. All staff earning £30,000 FTE gross and above saw their pay cut by 7% in response to coronavirus.

Leading firms collectively furloughed hundreds of staff during lockdown. However, commentators questioned whether large law firms, which announced strong financial results over the summer, should have made use of the job retention scheme.