National firm Freeths today announced a redundancy consultation which could result in the loss of 80 jobs. The cuts will be split almost equally between lawyers and support staff, and be spread across the firm’s 13 offices.

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’, prompting the decision to initiate a ‘significant realignment’ of resources.

Colin Flanagan, chairman of Freeths, said: ‘I am greatly saddened and disappointed that, as a result of external circumstances beyond our control, we are going to lose some of our excellent team members.

‘We have worked hard to build an exciting law firm with real momentum and one which truly values its people. It is a matter of huge regret that we are faced with some contraction in our work for the first time since the financial crisis, and that we find ourselves needing to reduce our staff numbers. I am, however, confident that this action is in the interests of the business and our clients and will allow us to move forward with renewed confidence for a successful future.’

The announcement was made by Flanagan in an email, followed immediately by video conference meetings with the staff council and all affected employees. These meetings set out a number of options, such as paid sabbaticals and reduced hours, which the firm hopes will reduce the number of redundancies.

Following the lockdown, partner distributions were suspended and monthly drawings reduced, with board members taking a 30% cut. In total, 110 staff were furloughed and employees agreed to a temporary salary cut which runs until August.

Most top-60 firms have furloughed some staff during the Covid-19 crisis. They face difficult decisions this month in particular, as the scheme ends in October and so three-month notice periods would need to be triggered in July if firms want to avoid paying staff costs beyond October.