Shoosmiths & Harrison is planning to relocate the bulk of its personal injury (PI) and uninsured loss recovery (ULR) work to a new office in Basingstoke by the first quarter of the year 2000.
Lawyers who refuse to move from the existing operations at Shoosmiths' Solent and Reading offices face redundancy as those offices will shrink dramatically in size.
The decision follows the firm's gaining of a large block contract from Eastgate Group legal fee insurers. ULR work is often fielded out to law firms from legal expense insurers in bulk.
Managing partner of Shoosmiths Graham New says that the new contract was a major consideration in the firm's decision to relocate PI and ULR work into one office so soon, but that the move had been talked about for some time and would have taken place at some point in the future anyway.
He says the chief reason for the move to the 38,000 square foot office is that it will consolidate expertise in ULR, which is an expanding area for Shoosmiths.
New adds: "It will help to bring our ULR department under one roof. Most ULR work is done in Reading and Solent at the moment.
"We have a PI section in Northampton that will not be moving to Basingstoke, but PI work in Reading and Solent will be moving."
More than 250 people are expected to relocate to the new office. New says: "A package is being offered to people to relocate to Basingstoke. We are offering relocation to everyone."
This decision follows months of speculation and rumours about the future of Shoosmiths' offices in Reading and Solent.
Sources say that this is the beginning of the end for these two offices. However, a staff information booklet about the move has been circulated to placate worried personnel.
New vigorously denies that the firm's Reading and Solent offices will close. He says: "Those offices will shrink but not close."