Firms have begun to reveal redundancy plans, as the lasting effect of the pandemic on solicitors and support staff becomes apparent.
International firm Squire Patton Boggs is to commence a redundancy consultation after discovering ‘more efficient ways of working’ during lockdown. According to a statement, a small number of UK administrative staff could lose their jobs, but no lawyers will be affected.
Meanwhile, national firm Weightmans has begun a redundancy and redeployment consultation as part of a wider restructuring strategy. The firm said a ‘very small number’ of staff will be affected, and the decision forms part of a wider strategy which began before the coronavirus pandemic took hold.
More sweeping job cuts have been announced elsewhere. Up to 80 lawyers and support staff across Freeths’ 13 UK offices could be made redundant as a result of coronavirus.
Freeths said it has achieved significant growth in recent years and passed £100m in turnover in 2019/20, requiring recruitment in order to deal with work demands. However, the pandemic has reversed this trend and created ‘over-capacity’.
Some 110 jobs may also be at risk at Irwin Mitchell as the firm prepares the business for emerging from the coronavirus lockdown.
In the City, Reed Smith has revealed plans to lay off lawyers and staff in its London office, citing the ‘prolonged economic uncertainty’ caused by the pandemic. Meanwhile, 14 fee-earners and 26 business services staff are expected to lose their jobs at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner in a global redundancy consultation, and insurance risk and commercial law specialist BLM is to cut almost 90 jobs as it ‘rapidly accelerates’ its digital strategy.
It is feared that more redundancies will come once the government’s furlough scheme ends on 31 October. With many solicitors still working from home, administrative staff could be hardest hit.