Ashurst has launched a redundancy review which could result in 80% of its 100-strong secretarial team in London being axed, while a handful of secretarial roles in the Middle East are also at risk.
Women will make up the majority of those in the firing line, with Ashurst stating in its March 2018 gender pay gap report that 122 of its 125 secretarial staff – or 98% – are female.
Jan Gooze Zijl, chief financial and operations officer, justified the move, commenting: ‘Responding to changing client needs, evolving technology, market efficiency drives and embracing new ways of working are strategic priorities for Ashurst. The way legal work is undertaken has changed considerably and we need an approach to service delivery that most effectively supports the practices and our business.’
The firm’s scaled back support function will be divided into three different role types across the London and Glasgow offices. This will include four team leaders and 35 practice executives responsible for practice management and business development, as well as a number of team executives and team assistants to undertake the more traditional administrative work.
Existing staff will be able to apply for the roles, which will predominantly be based in London, with nine of the team executive and assistant roles to be based in Glasgow.
The consultation is due to last until June, with the new structure eventually being implemented globally.
Caroline Rawes, Ashurst’s chief people officer, said: ‘We have undertaken a comprehensive review of how our secretarial function operates and this requires us to make some difficult decisions in relation to the teams.’
She added: ‘Ultimately, however, it is critical to have the right people, with the right skills, doing the right work in the right location. We believe the new structure will achieve that and will also allow us to create a career path which motivates and retains staff and drives high performance. We will be fully supporting our people during this process’.