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Personal injury firm Amery Parkes is to shut down its Bristol office less than a year after pulling out of London
Five fee-earners and 12 support staff have been made redundant as a result of the decision. Two Bristol fee-earners had already been made redundant in November last year. The closure, scheduled for August, will leave the firm with just two offices, in Birmingham and Basingstoke, and around 60 staff. The departure of key client the AA from its administrative base in Bristol around two years ago was a key driver in the decision to leave the city. Amery Parkes continues to work with the AA's offices in both Basingstoke and Cheshire. The Bristol staff were offered the opportunity to relocate to the remaining offices. Bristol managing partner Christopher Simmons will relocate to Basingstoke, while partner Mark Gayler and one assistant are going to Birmingham. The office's third partner, John Crocker, has opted to retire. Basingstoke managing partner Tom Risley said: "The work we are doing is quite portable. We've decided to concentrate on two locations instead of three." One member of staff at the Bristol office described the decision as a disaster for those involved. The source said: "This is about greed on the part of the partners. This is a profitable office, but because the work can be done in Basingstoke and Birmingham the overheads are unnecessary. The overheads of this office are small. We saw it coming. It wasn't a shock in that sense. It was a shock that they would actually do it. We could have grown this office." But Gayler said that it was unfair to criticise the partners. "If you have additional space in two large offices with long leases and you have a break clause in a small office, it's clearly not cost-effective to take on a new lease in a small office. By definition of a partnership, we're in the business of making a profit. It is unfair to say that this is about greed. "Apart from two particular people in the Bristol office who have always been involved in marketing, other fee-earners haven't shown a willingness to grow the practice. There has never really been a culture like that." Amery Parkes closed in London last year after three partners left to go to Payne Hicks Beach (The Lawyer, 10 September 2001).