Shakespeares to cut 54 jobs post-merger

Shakespeares looks set to axe 54 jobs following its merger with Harvey Ingram. The firm has announced proposals to make 41 back office redundancies, with a further 13 lawyers shown the door.

Three of the smaller offices in Bedford, Shipston-on-Stour and Moreton-in-Marsh will close at the end of the month. Most employees in these offices will transfer to nearby Stratford-upon-Avon or Milton Keynes, with 11 roles cut.

There is now a consultation period ahead of the live merger date of October 1.

Chief executive Paul Wilson revealed to The Lawyer in July that redundancies were likely following a strategic review of the business because of “duplications”, but insisted growth and recruitment to strengthen the business remained the objective (17 July 2012).

The review has now been completed and will bring total headcount down from more than 800 to 737 lawyers and staff. Shakespeares is the second largest firm in the Midlands behind Wragge & Co.

On top of the 54 jobs at risk, the merged firm is getting rid of its criminal legal aid practice which had been operating out of the former Harvey Ingram Borneos’ offices at Milton Keynes and Bedford.

Harvey Ingram partner Praveen Saigal – who was the chairman of Borneos before it merged with Harvey Ingram in January 2011 – will set up an independent business called PS Law, taking 13 employees with him.

Wilson said this decision was because the practice is “not a good strategic fit”. With changes to legal aid imminent, it is no longer a profitable area for firms.

In a statement, Wilson said: “While we very much regret that redundancies are necessary, much is being done, as part of the consultation, to offer people potential opportunities across the firm as we reshape the business and close three of our smaller offices.

“In line with changes in our industry, economies of scale from our merger and the prevailing market conditions have led us to make efficiencies in our back office areas. The changes we are announcing will help to consolidate our market position and create a strong platform from which we can continue to expand the business and strengthen our Midlands-wide team of experts.

“In particular, divesting the criminal legal aid practice is a logical move as it is not a good strategic fit with our core business which is focused on commercial businesses, public sector and high-net-worth private client services.”

Following the changes, the £50m new-look firm will operate from seven offices in Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham, Stratford-upon- Avon, Solihull, Milton Keynes and Newport Pagnell, trading as Shakespeares in all but Leicester which will be Harvey Ingram Shakespeares for at least 12 months (23 July 2012).