A number of regional residential conveyancing practices have begun a second round of redundancies, taking the total number of job cuts made in firms listed in The Lawyer’s UK 200 to 730.
Shoosmiths, which made a number of staff redundant in June, has laid off a further nine in a second wave, bringing the total number of job cuts at the firm to 32. A total of five fee-earners lost their jobs in the two culls. All of those affected were in Northampton’s residential conveyancing ;team. Property made up 27 per cent, or £27.9m, of the firm’s turnover for 2007-08.
With a total of 1,481 staff, the 32 redundancies constituted just 2 per cent of total headcount, while the five fee-earners made up 0.55 per cent of total fee-earners.
The picture is different at regional firm Tollers, which ;has ;made ;25 redundancies following two consultations. The 25 people who lost their jobs made up 10 per cent of the 228-strong headcount. Nineteen of the 25 were based in the conveyancing practice, with the remaining six from the personal legal services team. Property accounted for 31 per cent (£3.5m) of Tollers’ 2007-08 turnover.
Leeds-based Fox Hayes has also launched a second consultation with 18 members of staff, including eight fee-earners. This follows on from the 25, including 10 fee-earners, who were made redundant earlier this year. All of those affected are in the firm’s property conveyancing department.
Managing partner Philip Drazen said: “We’ve got one of the largest conveyancing practices in the country. Turnover will be down to £9m this year [from £10.1m last year], which is why we have to make redundancies.”
The 43 staff constitute 17 per cent of Fox Hayes’ total headcount of 254, while the 18 fee-earners make up 12 per cent of the 149-strong fee-earning capacity.
Many firms are now seeking to position themselves in other growth sectors.
Shoosmiths recently hired associate Harold Brako from DLA Piper to assist lender services head Waine Mannix in the launch of a niche mortgage recovery office in Manchester. Chief executive Paul Stothard said that the niche approach “would be consistent with how we went into Birmingham, where it was well over a year before we looked at other practice areas”.
Shoosmiths opened a property practice in Birmingham in 2003. Stothard said the firm would adopt a cautious approach before expanding into other areas in Manchester.
Fox Hayes is also reshaping its focus, with Drazen saying the remortgaging department was “busier than ever”, adding: “This year is a question of micromanaging the business.”
EMW Law in Milton Keynes has also completed a second wave of redundancies, cutting 17 staff, including six fee-earners. The total number of redundancies at the firm now stands at 22.