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Thomas Eggar has become the latest firm to overhaul its business support function and centralise its document production staff on the back of its merger with Pritchard Englefield last year.
The firm has grown and centralised its document production hub, reduced the number of receptionists and changed the titles and roles of its secretaries in a cultural and physical shift.
Thomas Eggar and London firm Pritchard Englefield merged on 1 May 2013 (10 April 2013). After a five-month integration process, which saw two IT staff exit Thomas Eggar, the firm brought its document production team into two offices in Crawley and Newbury.
The originally three-strong group has grown to seven and the firm will be adding an out-of-hours service enabling lawyers to outsource work around the clock. The firm will also be adding language abilities to the hubs to service legacy Pritchard Englefield’s German and French clients.
The group now takes on a higher volume of electronic document work for lawyers across its six UK offices. The shift was decided following the consultation with the support staff.
The firm has also reduced its number of receptionists and restructured its support teams to establish a more efficient secretary to lawyer ratio.
Before the merger Thomas Eggar had a ratio of around three lawyers to one secretary. The firm now has 79 secretaries to 155 lawyers, a ratio of 1:2. Secretaries have also been re-defined as team assistants in an effort to alter the culture of the firm and are now aligned underneath office managers.
Facilities staff roles have also expanded to include more business support work such as photocopying and scanning.
Managing partner Victoria Brackett said the shift was an effort to modernise and streamline the business support function and move away from personal secretaries.
She said: “It’s meant that the expectation of those roles are different and the behaviours of the lawyers are different.”
The restructure also involves more tailored training and career development for facilities teams, she said. Thomas Eggar now has a total of 86.7 full-time equivalent business services staff with 78.5 employed in secretarial and document production roles and 26.6 employed in facilities, the next largest group.
Trowers & Hamlins recently overhauled its business support service with a 21-strong document production team launching in Birmingham and 34 secretaries accepting voluntary redundancy (6 August 2014).