Pity the poor business support staff. A week after Pinsent Masons confirmed that it was consulting on cutting 100 non-legal jobs, Hogan Lovells has announced that around 90 roles in its London arm are likely to go as part of a restructuring of its business.
About 78 business service roles and 12 legal support roles will be phased out or transferred to the firm’s West Midlands legal service centre or South African global business services hub.
The Anglo-American law firm today (18 September) launched a consultation with those in London who are affected. A spokesperson for Hogan Lovells told Legal Business: ‘Subject to final consultation, we expect the vast majority of the roles will be moving and we expect two thirds of those roles will be to Johannesburg.’
Opened in March 2014, Hogan Lovells’ Birmingham hub currently employs around 70 staff on volume legal work, such as due diligence and document reviews for litigation, corporate and real estate projects, as well as document production.
Around 110 people work at the Johannesburg centre, which launched in February 2014. The office covers areas including conflict-checking, finance, marketing and business development and technology.
Hogan Lovells deputy chief executive David Hudd said the move was part of the firm’s strategy to evolve ‘so [the firm] continues to meet our business needs as well as those of our clients in a rapidly changing and highly competitive market’. He added: ‘We are fully committed to ensuring that our people are treated fairly and are fully supported throughout this process.’
UK and Africa regional managing partner Susan Bright added: ‘This is the logical next step to take in the development of our practice in the UK. In Johannesburg we have built a very well-integrated team which partners with our other global business services centre in Louisville, Kentucky. Since opening our Birmingham office we have built a consistently profitable and strong qualified lawyer and paralegal capability.’
Such moves underline the continuing hard-edged quest for efficiency at major law firms, with a host of major UK practices, including Allen & Overy, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Baker McKenzie and Ashurst, continuing to shift back-office roles out of London to lower-cost hubs in the UK and abroad.
Such moves, which typically impact far more heavily on non-legal support staff, come even amid respectable financial performance, with Hogan Lovells earlier this year announcing that its revenues for 2016 were up 6% to $1.93bn.
Click here for an extended analysis on the state of Hogan Lovells as the firm fights to secure its position in a highly competitive cross-border market (£)