Eversheds to axe 33 lawyers; Norwich to close

Eversheds is to make as many as 33 lawyers firm-wide plus support staff redundant, and is closing its Norwich base in response to the downturn in property work.

<a class=Eversheds to axe 33 lawyers; Norwich to close” />Eversheds is set to make as many as 33 lawyers across the firm plus related support staff redundant, and is closing its Norwich office in response to the downturn in property work.

The redundancy consultation process, which was launched today, is the direct consequence of Eversheds reviewing its real estate strategy over the summer in what had been dubbed “Project August”.

Eversheds head of real estate Lee Ranson told The Lawyer that the economic downturn of the past 12 months has been well publicised and that the firm is not immune to the negative climate.

“We did look at alternatives such as different fee-income streams and also wanted to ensure that the long-term business was protected,” said Ranson.

“While the loss of any staff is regrettable, it is important to put the proposals in context, as with a continuing real estate team of nearly 400 lawyers we will remain one of the largest and strongest real estate groups in Europe.”

Closing the Norwich office means the lawyers and support staff that are not made redundant will be transferred to the firm’s Cambridge office – the firm’s nearest base.

Norwich senior office partner Owen Warnock said staff in Norfolk understand the need for the two offices to merge.

“Both offices are busy and profitable but the proposal was put forward looking to the future,” said Warnock. “I’ve been a lawyer in Norwich for 28 years and have loved it, but it is understandable in terms of needs of clients why combining the offices is needed.”

The merger of the two offices will see the firm’s full-service Cambridge office increase its planning, real estate litigation teams, and a doubling of the Cambridge employment group.

Eversheds chief executive David Gray (pictured) told The Lawyer that while it is tough when a firm has to make people redundant, at least now those concerned will know their position.

“Making the position clear hopefully will put other lawyers at ease,” said Gray. “There will be a lot of concern and worry among those that could be made redundant, but for the rest of the business it will be reassuring to know where they stand.”