Top-25 firm Addleshaw Goddard has told 22 of its UK real estate lawyers that their jobs are under threat.

The firm said this week it had started a redundancy consultation that will affect lawyers across its UK offices. A voluntary scheme has been offered to provide those at risk with choice and control and to minimise the number of compulsory redundancies.

John Joyce, Addleshaw Goddard managing partner, said the sector has been badly hit by continuing uncertainty since before the EU referendum. 

‘For the last six months we have done everything possible to support all of our employees and keep everyone not furloughed at 100% hours and pay hoping for signs of a faster recovery,’ said Joyce. ‘However, our real estate team has grown over the last five years to match demand which has now reduced in some areas and after much thought we now recognise that we need to make changes given the limited prospects of imminent recovery. 

‘We do not want to apply small cuts across the whole workforce through this period in order to mask this issue and have concluded that the only way of properly dealing with the current situation is to address the over-capacity we know we have.'

He said the exercise is confined to the real estate team. 

Several firms have said they will make job cuts in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but in most cases these have affected support staff rather than lawyers. However, the lockdown may gradually be having a greater effect on fee earners.

National firm Freeths has said up to 80 lawyers and support staff could be made redundant, while 14 fee earners are amongst the 40 staff expected to lose their jobs at international firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner. City firm Reed Smith has revealed plans to lay off lawyers and staff in its London office, citing the ‘prolonged economic uncertainty’ caused by the pandemic.