Barlow Lyde & Gilbert has become the first insurance law firm to bow to the recession and publicly announce assistant job cuts

The firm, which saw profits per partner increase by 8 per cent last year, has made five assistants and one other fee-earner redundant across its corporate and commercial departments.

Barlows, like most of the major insurance firms, has seen its profitability rise in a climate that has claimed the scalps of largely non-contentious practices. However, senior partner Richard Dedman said that, notwithstanding how well the firm had done as a whole, the corporate job cuts were made because there was not enough work for all the assistants in that particular practice area. “You do try to keep people, but I believe, of all the insurance-based firms, we have the biggest non-contentious department and we decided it was best to have less people and more work for the people we have kept,” he said.

Dedman said that he did not expect this first round of redundancies to be followed by any other job cuts. “This is not the start of a dripping tap programme of redundancies,” he said.

Dedman also admitted that Barlows was reviewing its Hong Kong office, although he also said that there were no immediate plans for job cuts there.

Barlows' London office posted a turnover of £60m last year, with its other offices in Oxford, Shanghai and Hong Kong contributing just £4.9m.