DLA Piper puts 251 in consultation across UK as firm mulls Glasgow closure

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  • Do you think Knowles has discussed this with Obama? I imagine Barak is impressed with the strategy being adopted.

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  • Explains why partners have been popping up in other offices...

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  • Phase1?

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  • hey, maybe they could tell the rest of the partners it's not worth anything and transfer the defendant insurance business to LawVest or whatever its called?

    of course in these days where increasingly individuals as well as corporates don't want to pay for anything (especially legal services) they might want to reconsider that. Just a thought

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  • Today Glasgow; tomorrow Liverpool and/or Sheffield.

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  • Will the redundancy notices be delivered by drone?

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  • They are about to lose an awful lot of extremely skilled and well qualified DP Techs in whom they have invested many years of training and whose loyalty and hardwork was unquestionable - until now :(

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  • Will they pay minimum redundancy again? Which would confirm them as totally prestige deprived, poxy firm again ?

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  • I hope DLA realise that the DP techs they are losing are extremely skilled - and their absence will be sorely felt!

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  • DL Dismay

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  • DLA have some of the most loyal, talented and skilled DP Techs in whom they had invested so much training, I hope they realise what they are losing

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  • Feel sorry for those affected. With Glasgow gone I don't think the Edinburgh office would be far behind. What would be left in Edinburgh would be too sub-scale in Scotland to win any big mandates ahead of the major Scottish players and retain the profitability DLA desires. A lot of the talented lawyers in the Glasgow office will move on to firms with ambition in Scotland.

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  • Smell the coffee.
    If you work in a regional office and have clients then move to a firm where your talents will be appreciated.

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  • Natural consequences of the strategic plan implementation and surely doesn't stop there. Shame management have not got the grace to share the whole picture which must have been planned for years. Shame also that the partners simply take everything thrown at them and do absolutely nothing about it. Cornered now. Grin and bear it or go. The firm certainly is not owned by the partners who built it anyway. Salutory lessons on big firm mentality.

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  • If the Glagsow lawyers are any good (and not just mooching off the rest of the firm), there are certainly large enough to start their own stand-alone firm.

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  • Re - 4:47pm
    Probably, and that is of concern to the rest of the staff still here. Nobody is saying this is the end of the lay offs.
    Re - 5:15pm
    My guess would be Liverpool will be in "phase 2".
    Great news for all at DLA, and just before Xmas as well !!

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  • From the hilarious Nigel Knowles/Obama thread:
    "Ginandtonic | 9-Nov-2012 8:24 am
    It makes one ask what the rest of you have achieved in your illustrious careers. I dont see many law firms that have grown 40x in 20 years and still know where they are going.. It is easy to carp!"
    Yeah, well, there's going to be alot more carping at DLA in the foreseeable. A sign of the times. Loads of city and regionaly heavyweights are too loaded with debt, CFA's that won't pay off, and fees being trimmed. This won't be in any way the last "shrinkage" in these sorts firms.

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  • Glasgow gone - Edinburgh will pick up slack but I think will remain safe. Liverpool is safe - one of Sheffield or Leeds will be next.
    Edinburgh, (a reduced) Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester to support the London office's clients in the UK. But there will be more redundancies for sure.
    In the meantime, there are already 'realignments' within departments with amalgamation of governance between different offices. Only a matter of time before that amalgamation becomes geographical as well.

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  • Regrettable though it is, this kind of consolidation makes sense.
    I just hope DLA does the right thing by those who are unfortunate collateral damage in all of this.

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  • Makes more sense to keep Leeds than Sheffield, similarly Manchester over Liverpool.

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  • Welcome to Angel's World. Money matters, people don't---who really thinks that is a sensible mantra for a people business in anything but the shortest term?

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  • Things not looking good for Sheffield
    It has a lot of defendant insurance staff on that site and DLA were always a stronger Leeds prescence if one of the Yorkshire offices is to go........
    Birmingham will lose their Insurance staff too but DLA will keep a site in the "second city"

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  • @ Anonymous | 14-Nov-2012 12:24 pm

    Last I checked, law firms were not charities or some kind of Hippie commune. DLA has to become more cost-efficient as it grows (eg, as good as its various PD units may be, it makes no sense to have multiple units for ONE country with one time zone) and more profitable to attract and retain the sort of talent to be competitive in the arena that it apparently seeks to play in. Meanwhile, those fine lawyers who have little or no interest in making money can join the civil or other public services.

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  • There doesn't have to be a "next".

    There has clearly been a review and the firm has reached a decision. Multiple spates of redudancies doesn't make sense if they've already spotted the problem. They may as well declare all at once.

    There's a lot of hostile comments. My feeling is that every so often one firm becomes the butt of people's jokes / the focus of critics. The spotlight is currently on DLA Piper.

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  • Lets not forget amongst all the emotion that DLA is a business and needs to operate like one. The legal sector has been blessed in that it has escaped up until the last year or so what many corporations have had to do for the past 5 years. i.e. become more efficient in the way they operate. A cursory glance at the figures above should tell anyone that with that many DP people (who I am sure are all wonderful individuals) DLA must be creating more documents that the rainforest can keep up with ( I think not) Well done DLA for being proactive and transparent in your communication around this (obviously) difficult decision.

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  • Agree, Liverpool and Sheffield must be on borrowed time too.

    Expect DLA will eventually just have offices in London, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh.

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  • As an embittered ex-DLAer, I feel very sorry for those that are under threat but quite why they need over a hundred typists is not explained. It looks like a good business move, tragic though it is for the individuals involved.
    I doubt there'll be another phase. If Liverpool or Sheffield were on the radar what better time to do it than now? Those who don't know the firm don't realise that Sheffield is probably the best managed and most profitable of all the offices. I don't know Liverpool but I'm guessing it's profitable enough to have clung on for so long. The real basket cases are Birmingham and London.

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  • @Anonymous | 14-Nov-2012 1:03 pm
    Just wait until it happens to you (and I can only hope it does given your tone) and let's see if you are so understanding of such action. It is easy to be so unconcerned and unmoved about such matters when it doesn’t affect you.

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  • Anonymous | 14-Nov-2012 2:35 pm
    As an ex-DLAer (there are so many of us) I agree entirely with your assessment. Very few people outside the firm understand the significance of the Sheffield office or the number of major clients based out that office that DLA would lose if the office closed. Leeds is a powerhouse though so posts suggesting that might close are barmy.

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  • I agree with the ex-DLAers above. People that pick out the Sheffield office for the chop obviously don't know the firm very well. It is one of the most profitable offices, manages some major clients, is home to a lot of central support functions and has a lot of history (just look at the number of ex-Sheffield people at the top of the firm). And of all the offices, it is arguably the least dependent on its local market.

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  • Seems to be a few DLA Sheffield'ers talking the place up. Hope Mr Angel is reading!
    Lets not forget offices don't mange clients, partners do.
    Slot those partners into other offices and the client moves too. History is sentimentality and there's none of that there. If Sheffield is such a crucial hub why not put the central DP there too in the space to be left by the insurance team?
    The ravens/rats, whose departure to another city would be the death knell are the army of accountants!

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  • As a client of DLA's I attended their Skyfall Premiere evening in Scotland only week's ago, rather indulgent for a firm that knew it was about to take such a drastic step. Very disappointing to see such a lack of commitment to their Scottish clients.

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  • Does anyone know how this plan could affect a student who has been offered a training contract with the firm to commence in 2014 in Scotland...?

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  • After giving almost a quarter of a century to this firm I find it very offensive to be referred to by Mr Angel as "wastage". DP techs are highly trained and skilled and provide much more than a typing service. I hope he has a nice comfortable Christmas with his £2million remuneration package (which would probably cover the salaries of all DP techs at risk) while we now have a Christmas full of doubt. I hope he chokes on his Turkey!

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  • London and Birmingham may be the basket cases but can anybody see DLA closing either?

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  • I'm another ex DLA person, several years back I had a similar experience to the current crop of redundacies. They offered me another job, I told them to shove it where the sun doesn't shine. Oh, one other thing ... Leeds? International business centre eh? lol.

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  • DLA is looking increasingly like a firm that wants as many flags as it can possibly plant to be planted in emerging markets around the world. Nothing wrong in that. However there are some anomolies like the two offices in both Yorkshire and "Lancashire", along with two in Baltimore and three in greater San Diego (!!!!). Doubtless those offices serve specific purposes, but in the longer term the firm clearly has global ambitions andthe firm probably sees a future with multiple offices in China rather than having four along the M62 corridor (Sheffield being just 30 or so miles south of the M62!).

    Whilst regional offices have a future for now, as another poster suggests, there is as slow yet steady march of Partners who are leaving the Northern offices for firms who might better appreciate their talents,as is witnessed by the recent resignation of a team of for Real Estate partners in Manchester.

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  • So that's it! That's the great strategic plan that Mr 'Man with a Plan' Angel has been slaving over? With respect, a sixth form business studies student with access to a map, a basic understanding of P&Ls and a fair dollop of nous could have devised this one in double quick time. The more pressing issue is what happens to the suits responsible for strategy? -

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  • I am one of these DP technicians up for redundancy. I cannot believe the way in which we are being treated. The closure of DP units across the board is going to be a disaster and backfire big time! Maybe Mr Angel could spend a week in a unit to see EXACTLY what goes on and how much DP are relied on especially out of hours and then he might reconsider, although I feel the decision has already been made!!

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  • Having witnessed the aftermath of these cuts this week and the distress it has caused, I am disgusted at how Senior Management of the firm have failed to even acknowledge what is going on. They have left their UK Managing Partner to communicate the news and Tony Angel is as invisible as always. Nigel Knowles even had the distaste to do an update blog on Africa the day after the news was announced!

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  • Does the reference here to "Document production" equate to litigation support/discovery type production or to actual documentation typically done by secretaries and word processors? Being in the US, I read it as secretarial support but thought I should ask to be sure.

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  • Future trainee - deferrals seem likely

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  • DLA thought it was fair to call everyone affected in a conference call to break the news. On top of that they have very recently recruited new staff to DP Leeds despite a firm recruitment freeze. Convincing fair consultation process. Fee earners are not being included in the consultation process I believe primarily because they would oppose a move to a central unit in Leeds. They way they are treating loyal hard working staff is shameful. As for the legal typist jibe wouldn't mind watching you try it and see the quality. Of which sadly there will be lacking if the proposal goes ahead. Clearly professionalism does not matter here only cost

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  • For clarification DP produce advanced publishers, excels, Visio charts, PowerPoint presentations, marketing pitches and word documents which are either too large or complicated for secretarial support to spend hours on - amongst other things. They are also the 'fixers' when someone else - be it the other side or a well meaning fee earner - completely messes up their project! They work out of hours and overnight as well as 9-5. They also work nationally and internationally rather than just locally, so the ratios above are not accurate at all.

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  • With regards to future trainees, do you think if we are offered a deferral but do not want to accept it, we have the right to cancel our contract without the obligation to pay back any money received from the firm in contribution to Diploma in Legal Practice Fees?

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  • LOOKING FOR A NEW HOME - Glasgow DP will most likely be looking for a new home from around February 2013! We are a team of 11 who at the moment cover the shifts between 8.30am and 9pm Monday to Friday between us. We are a very skilled, hardworking and friendly team. We are all proficient in Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Visio and Publisher. We work extremely well together and have a wealth of experience to offer any prospective employer. We would prefer to relocate as a team! Please direct any enquiries through Glasgow HR :)

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  • @Anonymous 1:06pm
    My understanding is that you cannot be made to defer (hence the reason why firms usually offer cash sweeteners when they ask prospective trainees to defer) but if you elect to not train with the firm then they will be entitled to claw back fees and maintenance grants.
    If you choose to start when you are due to start, despite being asked to defer, then you may find that there isn't a lot of work for you to do and/or less chance of securing an NQ role at the end due to there being too many trainees in relation to number of qualified staff required. If you elect for the latter (not train at DLA) then you will probably want to have something else to go into so you can afford to pay back any grants and fees paid by them.

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  • Trainee: you should be able to sue them for breach of your training contract, or demand compensation for the deferred year. I don't see why you should have to pay them back. Quite the opposite.

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  • Future trainee - perhaps the best advice anybody could give is for you to use this as an appropriate time to rethink whether you want to enter into a profession that doesn't really make much money anymore, as clients become less and less willing to pay for quality service.
    The real failure here is that of the UK board to recognise the fact that DLA's position in the Scottish legal market is considerably different to that of its position down south - if the Scottish office continues to be treated as "just another UK office" then DLA in Scotland will continue to stand out in the Scottish legal market as a firm that clearly can't decide what its place in the Scottish market is.
    The big 4 Scottish firms consolidate and the other medium-large Scottish firms continue to grow - DLA's response = close the Glasgow office!

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  • Good business decision or a cut too far? Acknowledge DP are not an income generating team. And they occupy lots of space across lots of offices that, in theory, could be utilised as fee-generating space or a cut in commercial rent. In theory, a great business decision. In practice,likely to be very different. As an ex-DLAer this looks to me like a drastic extension of previous piecemeal cost-cutting to support services, which started with the abolition of 24/7 DP units across various offices to skeleton staff overnight in Leeds/London. The effect was felt even then by the fee-earning staff (particularly those in depts other than corporate on evenings when completions were taking place), but was minimised by some truly amazing cross-office juggling by the DP co-ordinators. I suspect that was hailed a cost-cutting success despite the minor headaches it caused.
    One of the reasons DLA worked like a well oiled machine is that it invested in its support functions: IT, DP,training. DLA's DP techs are second to none; I hope that there are plenty of other firms waiting to get their hands on any that are made redundant - it would be an investment they wouldn't regret. The current climate may dictate that costs have to be reduced, but I fear that the sheer scale of the proposed redundancies in DP may be felt so acutely by the fee-earning population on the ground, that Mr Angel will achieve nothing more than putting some clear blue water between the decision makers at the top and the rest of the staff at the firm. Let's see what happens to attrition rates at their best performing offices.
    Agree with previous posts : London probably safe, not on profitability but just on the fact that the firm needs to have some sort of presence there. The posts saying Leeds will go don't know the firm at all:Mr Angel would have to be completely barking mad. Would only happen if the Leeds partners decided go it alone.

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