Former in-house lawyers at telecoms giant BT who transferred to DWF under an outsourcing deal are leaving the international firm following proposals to relocate them from Sheffield to Leeds.

DWF confirmed today that 27 employees, who continued to work from BT's office in Sheffield after a strategic partnership was announced just over a year ago, are taking voluntary redundancy. The firm said staying in BT's Sheffield office was no longer viable. The move is part of a package of economy measures announced following a management shake-up at the stock exchange listed firm in May. Shares in DWF on the London Stock Exchange have halved in value this year. 

In July last year DWF won a tender to become BT's 'strategic legal partner', providing insurance and real estate advice for a five-year period. Staff from BT’s in-house claims and corporate property teams transferred to DWF’s managed services practice. Over 40 employees were in scope to transfer to DWF.

The firm said it began consulting on relocation plans earlier this year.

DWF said: ‘A proposal was discussed alongside BT, CWU [Communication Workers Union] and Prospect to relocate colleagues to the DWF office in Leeds where roles were available for the majority of affected colleagues. Staying in the BT offices in Sheffield was not a viable option. Having consulted our colleagues based in those BT offices on the long-term location plan and their preferences, unfortunately 27 colleagues are leaving due to redundancy whilst two colleagues will work from the DWF office in Leeds.

‘This is never an easy process to go through and we want to thank all those individuals who have been affected for their cooperation. We wish all our colleagues the very best.’

The strategic partnership was a ‘first for the firm’, DWF said last year. A few months later, DWF acquired BT Law Limited, the telecom giant’s legal arm.