Legal Business Blogs

Efficiency drive: Freshfields shakes up London secretarial staff roles

Personal assistants at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in London have been offered voluntary redundancy or the chance to apply for a more client-focused role in a move that affects around 180 staff.

PAs have been given the option to apply to become an executive assistant at the magic circle firm on an enhanced package. If they are unsuccessful in applying for that role, they can either remain as a personal assistant or take voluntary redundancy.

In a project that is understood to be led by London managing partner Julian Long, the executive assistant role will have more of a client focus. Whereas PAs at Freshfields are usually assigned to around six people, an executive assistant will be working with two or three people in addition to supporting partners. The process began in October and is due to be completed by the end of this month.

This is the latest in a raft of measures to improve efficiency at the magic circle firm. It was revealed last November that Freshfields is to sign a new lease in the City at 100 Bishopsgate.

The firm had been looking for 300,000 sq ft with its Fleet Street lease in London due to expire in 2021. It currently occupies 221,000 sq ft at its Fleet Street base with an additional 150,000 sq ft at its nearby 28 Tudor Street offices. 100 Bishopsgate is to be completed in 2018.

Freshfields opened the doors to its low-cost Manchester services hub in July 2015. Later that year, the firm selected a permanent location, One New Bailey, doubling the size of its current office to 80,000 sq ft. It is expected to move into the new premises this year.

In April 2016 the firm confirmed it would open a second low-cost hub. At the time Freshfields chose Vancouver, Canada as its favoured location.