Keoghs has been forced to close its Southampton office.
Opened less than two years ago to offer clients national coverage, the office has struggled to attract new business. Of the 11 fee-earners based in Southampton, just three - including the office's only partner Asim Butt - will stay within the firm. Keoghs will now operate out of its larger Bolton and Coventry offices. Partner David Tyson believes that the firm can work on a more cost-effective basis from just the two offices. "When we started exploring the possibility of opening in the South, we perceived that our clients wanted national coverage," said Tyson. But contrary to this expectation, the market instead showed a diminished demand for a regional spread. He added: "If clients don't require regional coverage, it doesn't make business sense to keep every office open. "It wasn't a decision that we made overnight. I'm disappointed, but life goes on." The tougher market for insurance firms has seen a spate of panel reductions. When allocating a regional spread of work, clients are cherry-picking individual offices as opposed to choosing national coverage from one or two firms. Although Keoghs did comparatively well out of panel shake-ups by AXA and CGNU, only the firm's offices in Bolton and Coventry won places. Tyson said: "We were hoping to replicate Coventry, and that [strategy] wasn't altogether a success. I suppose I'm pragmatic about it now. We're in an ever-changing marketplace in insurance litigation." The AXA panel review witnessed both Berrymans Lace Mawer and Beachcroft Wansbroughs retain places in single locations (Manchester and Birmingham respectively). Tyson speculated that other law firms that are focused on the insurance sector may have to follow Keoghs' lead and assess the need for regional offices.