Legal Business Blogs

Redundancy watch: MMS loses 28 staff and Shakespeares launches consultation as Ashurst’s Scottish fallout continues

Redundancy is a word that has been heard rather less over the quieter summer months but yesterday (9 September) Scottish firm Maclay Murray & Spens confirmed it has made a total of 28 staff redundant. Meanwhile, Midlands firm Shakespeares this week confirmed the launch of a consultation over 19 secretarial roles as Ashurst completes the first stage of a redundancy process affecting 350 roles.

Maclays first announced in early June its plans to make up to 30 legal and support staff redundant across its Edinburgh, Glasgow and London offices in a range of practice areas, particularly property and corporate. A statement released by the firm yesterday said: ‘While we regret having to take these steps, they are necessary for the implementation of the firm’s future growth strategy.’

The firm – which has suffered disappointing financial results for the last few years and this year saw revenue drop a further 13% to £40.9m and profit per equity partner down by 22% to £211,000 – began a strategic review of its business in June 2011, which was temporarily put on hold when the firm entered merger talks with legacy firm Bond Pearce (now Bond Dickinson); discussions which never came to fruition.

Speaking earlier to Legal Business, managing partner Chris Smylie said: ‘When we started our strategic review in 2012, it was for us a process of redefinition as well as a drive for focus. With around a third of our revenue coming from our London office, we consider ourselves a UK national cross-border practice not a Scots firm with a London office as we are still regarded in some quarters. It is this reputation that we want to build and focus on. While it has worked well for the likes of Brodies and Burness Paull to maintain a Scotland focused practice, that wouldn’t be the right thing for our clients or our business.’

Meanwhile, Midlands firm Shakespeares, which announced the acquisition of Leicester-based property firm Marrons and Coventry-based Newsome Vaughan last week, is restructuring its secretarial function and launched a redundancy round at the end of last week with 19 out of 100 secretarial roles put at risk across its seven offices.

At the same time, the firm is creating 18 new administrative roles and some of those under review may be re-hired as administrators carrying out paralegal as well as secretarial work.

This latest development follows a redundancy consultation launched in September last year, shortly after the fast-expanding firm’s merger with Harvey Ingram, in which it cut 54 roles.

Elsewhere Ashurst, which made public in June its plan to launch a new Glasgow unit to lower costs in a move which sees 350 London support roles placed at risk of redundancy, has confirmed that it has completed the initial stage of this consultation and that individual consultations are now in process.

The restructuring will see 150 new roles created in Glasgow in the first 12 months, 120 of which will be in the support services function and 30 of which are legal analyst roles. The 350 London staff now undergoing individual consultations will be offered the opportunity to move to the new base.

Results of the final outcome are expected at the end of the year with staff expected to leave or transfer in early 2014.

Berwin Leighton Paisner, DWF, Hill Dickinson and Taylor Wessing have all announced job cuts as a result of consultations which have completed in the last couple of months, while Watson Farley and recently merged Bond Dickinson have both launched consultations of their own, with confirmation of the number of roles cut expected from Watson Farley at the end of this week.