City firm Ashurst has confirmed it is reviewing its business services, which could result in dozens of secretarial staff being axed.

The firm, which has 400 partners and 1,300 lawyers across 25 offices in 15 countries, says it has initiated the review to respond to the 'evolving demands' of clients and the legal market. The firm proposes to move the secretarial function and certain regional business services functions into its operations team and introduce a new 'practice executive multi-disciplined role'. Newly created local service hubs will comprise team executives and assistants who will do routine secretarial and administrative process tasks.

An initial rollout will take place in London and the Middle East. Ashurst says a consultation process is 'under way with secretarial staff whose roles may be affected'. About 80 posts are understood to be in the line of fire.

Jan Goose Ziji, chief financial and operations officer, said the way legal work is undertaken 'has changed considerably'.

Caroline Rawes, the firm's chief people officer, said: 'We have undertaken a comprehensive review of how our secretarial function operates and this requires us to make some difficult decisions in relation to the teams. Ultimately, however, it is critical to have the right people, with the right skills, doing the right work in the right location. We believe the new structure will achieve that and will also allow us to create a career path which motivates and retains staff and drives high performance. We will be fully supporting our people during this process.'

In February Ashurst became the latest firm to broker links with the Chinese market after announcing the opening of a new office in Shanghai's free trade zone.