Lester Aldridge issued redundancy notices to around 15 lawyers and support staff last week.
The south coast firm blamed a restructuring that, in the words of managing partner Michael Giddins, was "about being able to offer opportunities for our staff and for our clients which our marketplace is now expecting".
The redundancies follow a review by professional services consultants Hildebrandt International. Giddins said the firm had "altered considerably" over the past few years and needed to continue to take steps forward. "Regrettably, some of the steps aren't easy," said Giddins. "Our staff are core to our business and we're working diligently to make sure that those whose roles are affected are supported in whatever way we can."
Opportunities or not, the development will be a blow to a firm that saw a high proportion of its partners leave the firm, decimating one of its core areas, finance, during the 2005-06 financial year with the messy departure of former head Kevin Heath and several assistants to Salans.
The June promotion of litigator Giddins to the managing partner role, taking over from the expansionist Roger Wooley, is seen as an attempt to cut costs and consolidate. As one former partner put it: "Giddins has a mandate to steady things down."
Revenue during 2005-06 inched up by 4 per cent to £16.7m.