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Real estate practice worst-hit as Simmons makes redundancies across its London office

Simmons & Simmons has laid off lawyers in London following the Brexit vote. While the firm has refused to comment on the number of redundancies, banking and real estate are two practices known to be affected.

A spokesperson for Simmons & Simmons told Legal Business: ‘We’re not going to give any details about this but yes, we have let one or two people go. That’s just part of what any business would do when events like Brexit happen. The numbers are not big. It’s largely in real estate.’

The news, first revealed by RollOnFriday, follows a slump in the firm’s profitability, with profit per equity partner falling 10% in 2015/16 to £585,000. Simmons & Simmons has also closed its Abu Dhabi and Rome offices in the last 12 months.

Real estate practices have experienced a marked slowdown in transactions since the Brexit vote on 23 June, with many citing cancelled deals. The vote resulted in an exodus of capital that has caused some funds to halt trading, with retail investors withdrawing £1.4bn from property funds in June according to the Investment Association.

While Simmons & Simmons is the first major firm in the City known to have made redundancies, in June Berwin Leighton Paisner, which has a major real estate practice, froze pay and bonuses until November. In an email to staff, managing partner Lisa Mayhew said the reason was ‘political and financial uncertainty in the UK following the recent vote to leave the EU.’