100 PA jobs at risk as technology push leads Pinsent Masons to redundancy consultation

With growing pressure on firms to increase efficiency in the delivery of legal services through technology, as many as 100 legal personal assistant (PA) roles at Pinsent Masons are at risk of redundancy following a consultation launched by the firm.

The consultation will end by November and could affect any of the firm’s UK offices.

The role of team coordinator will be affected by the consultation, however Pinsents will create new PA manager roles, as well as around 50 new team administrator roles, which team coordinators will be eligible to apply for. Pinsents currently operates on a ratio of four and a half fee-earners to every PA.

In a statement the firm said that it has invested significantly in technology and ‘other resources’ and as a consequence ‘resourcing levels among PA staff and the needs of the business are no longer aligned’.

A spokesperson added: ‘For that reason we will be entering into a consultation with our PA team. While it is hard to be precise about the outcome of the consultation at this point, we have not ruled out the reallocation of resource or redundancy of some roles. We will do everything possible to support those impacted during what we recognise is an unsettling time.’

News of Pinsents’ consultation follows a similar move recently by insurance firm BLM.

In June BLM cut 50 overall business support roles following the firm’s investment in technology and flexible working among lawyers. It is understood that voluntary redundancy was offered was to over 300 employees in the firm.

And last October, 180 staff at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer were offered voluntary redundancy as part of a London secretarial support staff review that was expected to bring headcount in the City down to about 160.

As part of the review, PAs were given the option to apply to become executive assistants, a role which involves more responsibility and pay. If PAs were unsuccessful in applying for that role, they were given the choice to either remain as a PA or take voluntary redundancy. Around 40 PAs were promoted to executive assistant in January.

After a subdued 2015/16 financial year, Pinsents broke the £400m barrier with revenues up 11% from £382.3m to £423.1m in 2016/2017. Profit per equity partner (PEP) jumped 14% from £552,000 to £625,000. Excluding the impact of currency fluctuations, the firm achieved like-for-like turnover growth of 7%.

Meanwhile the firm’s 2015/16 LLP accounts, published in January, showed that key management compensation increased 2% from £5m to £5.1m.

kathryn.mccann@legalease.co.uk