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Freshfields promotes 40 to executive assistant but will recruit more in support staff review

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has promoted around 40 of its personal assistants (PAs) to executive assistant after about 80 applied for the newly-created roles as part of a review of 180 staff.

In October 180 staff were offered voluntary redundancy as part of a London secretarial support staff review that is 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.

As the firm offered positions to 35-40 to internal candidates, it will now recruit externally to fill another 40-50 executive assistant positions. PAs which took the package are expected to be made redundant in groups over the next 12 months.

The review was led by London managing partner Julian Long and 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.

Freshfields declined to comment on the review.

For more on Freshfields’ recent strategic developments, see The last champions – meet the leaders intent on sealing Freshfields’ place in the global elite