Ashurst to axe up to 17 support staff in outsourcing drive

Ashurst plans to cut its out-of-hours support staff base by half, in a move intended to improve efficiency.

The firm currently has an out-of-hours support team consisting of 34 document production staff in London. Of these, 17 have been placed into a redundancy consultation intended to drawn to a close before the end of August. 

The move is part of the firm’s continuing drive to improve the efficiency of its support staff structure, following the launch of a low-cost support base in Glasgow last year (12 June 2013).

While Ashurst intends to maintain a “hub” of out-of-hours support staff in London, it is actively seeking to appoint an offshore provider to deal with a large chunk of the firm’s late-night document production work. However, it is yet to settle on a location or a provider for the soon-to-be outsourced work. 

A spokesperson said: “In common with many law firms, we are planning to move to a model where an onsite central hub based in London receives work which is then undertaken onsite or via an offshore outsourced provider. Our Australian offices have already been successfully using this model for more than a year”. 

The firm added: “We will be consulting with the team in London which could unfortunately lead to some redundancies in the team. As part of this consultation process, we will explore methods for avoiding and minimising this”. 

Last October, Ashurst cut more than 120 support staff jobs from its London office following a redundancy consultation involving some 350 back-office roles (4 October 2013). Each of the 120 staff involved was offered the opportunity to relocate to the firm’s new Glasgow low-cost base for a reduced salary. About five employees ultimately took up the offer. 

Ashurst is not the only firm to make support staff redundancies this year. Stephenson Harwood cut an undisclosed number of its City support staff in February following a “significant reorganisation” of its back-office teams (5 February 2014). 

DLA Piper cut 69 staff from its document production team in January as part of an ongoing review of the business (17 January 2014), while CMS Cameron McKenna and Dundas & Wilson axed 60 support roles ahead of their £277m merger in May (30 April 2014). This week it emerged that Trower & Hamlins had made 34 secretaries redundant as it launched a document production hub in Birmingham (6 August 2014).