International firm Ashurst has begun a consultation to cull out-of-hours support staff in a bid to improve efficiency.

Seventeen of the firm’s 34 document production team in London have been put at risk of redundancy in a consultation that started this week and is expected to run throughout the summer.

The move is intended to improve the firm’s efficiency and flexibility in dealing with varying work volumes. It follows the launch last year of a business support base in Glasgow, which resulted in the loss of 120 support staff jobs in London.

The firm will maintain a hub of out-of-hours staff in London but it is ‘actively identifying’ an offshore provider to cover night work, matching the model used by its Australian offices.

A statement released by Ashurst said: ‘Following the successful transition of some business support activities to Glasgow, we continue to look at improving operational activities across the firm. We have, therefore, conducted a thorough review of alternative ways of providing high-quality document production service to fee-earners.

‘In common with many law firms, we are planning to move to a model where an onsite central hub based in London receives work which is then undertaken onsite or via an offshore outsourced provider.

‘Our Australian offices have already been successfully using this model for more than a year.’