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City biz services staff under threat again as Taylor Wessing mulls 34 redundancies

The transfer of business services roles into low-cost bases shows no sign of slowdown in 2019, with top 20 UK firm Taylor Wessing announcing it is considering making 13% of its 270-strong City team redundant by the end of 2020.

The move, announced today (25 January), potentially affects 34 London-based staff and comes as the firm looks to create 35 new business services roles in the Liverpool base it launched last October.

Led by head of real estate disputes Saleem Fazal, the firm plans to grow the headcount in its Northshore office from 20 to 150 by the end of 2020, including new roles and relocations from London.

It is currently considering proposals to move some of its business services functions from London to Liverpool. If implemented, the proposals could lead to redundancies in the City, although the firm said in a statement that all individuals impacted will be offered the opportunity to relocate to Liverpool.

As well as the business support staff, the Liverpool office will host at least ten paralegals and two real estate associates.

The consultation on the plans will launch on 6 February and is expected to last between four and six weeks.

Taylor Wessing managing partner Shane Gleghorn told Legal Business: ‘We want to remain competitive, invest in our business and increase profitability. Many other organisations have the alternative resourcing model. We are wishing to focus on the legal piece and our current sectors of focus. We are not chasing local revenue, it is not about competing with local firms [in Liverpool]. This is very much consistent with our current strategy.’

The news comes in spite of Taylor Wessing posting a strong set of financial results in 2017/18, its UK profit per equity partner rising 20% to £579,000 while global revenue of the verein firm rose 12% to £144.6m.

Taylor Wessing joins a long list of firms announcing reviews of their London support staff amid cost pressure. Last October, Baker McKenzie launched a review of its entire London business services staff, estimated to include around 350 people.

A few days later Bakers announced a new low-cost centre in Tampa, Florida, catering for a similar number of roles.

In July, Ashurst slashed 54 of its 100-strong secretarial team and Ince & Co announced 32 redundancies, including 25 business services staff and seven fee earners.

Hogan Lovells cut 54 of around 500 business services roles in June, moving most of them to low-cost hubs in Birmingham, Johannesburg and Louisville.