Dickinson Dees becomes latest downturn victim with 70 redundancies planned

Dickinson Dees is the latest firm to launch ­redundancy talks, entering ­consultation with three of the four departments in its volume business.

<a class=Dickinson Dees becomes latest downturn victim with 70 redundancies planned” />Dickinson ;Dees ;is the latest firm to launch ­redundancy talks, entering ­consultation with three of the four departments in its volume business.
It is the latest in a string of regional firms to begin consulting with staff, with the bulk of the redundancies hitting conveyancing teams.

A total of around 165 staff, including around nine qualified solicitors, are employed within Dickinson Dees’ volume arm, which deals with remortgage, conveyancing, repossession, loss recovery and Home Information Packs. The firm plans to slash the group’s headcount by around 70, with the 39-strong repossessions and loss recovery team the only one within the group not affected.

Dickinson Dees declined to comment, but released a statement that said the decision was made after a “review of the division’s financial results and the effect of the worldwide downturn in the financial markets on the UK residential property market”.

The consultation process is expected to finish by the end of August.
Last year the firm’s ­volume business made 17 staff redundant against a background of a decline in the fortunes of its biggest client Northern Rock, as reported by The Lawyer (26 November 2007).

At the time the firm said it would hive off its volume business, but the plans were shelved as the ­economic ­climate worsened. Instead the ;volume ;business was rebranded as d3 and still operates as part of the ­Dickinson Dees ­partnership.

Elsewhere, EMW Law, Franklins ;Solicitors, ­Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors, Matthew Arnold & Baldwin (MAB), Shoosmiths and Tollers are among the firms making redundancies, with most of the job losses expected to affect support staff.

As reported by The Lawyer last month (30 June), 23 conveyancing staff at Shoosmiths’ Northampton office have accepted ­voluntary redundancy and five more are at risk of ­compulsory redundancy. Regional firm Tollers has laid off 18 residential conveyancing staff across four offices and it is understood that MAB has made seven staff, including one solicitor, redundant in Milton Keynes and Watford.

Hammonds ;Direct, the volume conveyancing ­business that gained its independence ;from ­Hammonds eight years ago, has also made a number of redundancies.

Firms in Milton Keynes and ;the ;surrounding areas have been particularly hard hit, with Kimbells announcing 11 redundancies, ;including ;two ­paralegals (TheLawyer.com, 24 June).

EMW has made four support staff redundant, while Northampton and Milton Keynes-based Franklins is understood to have made several ;redundancies, including fee-earning staff. Partners ;at ;Franklins refused to comment.

At Hammonds Direct, CEO John Heller admitted that a number of staff had been forced to leave the firm, but refused to confirm the number of departures. He pointed out that the ­volume ;business ;had ­suffered as a result of the property market being at its lowest ebb in 20 years.
News of the hit taken by the conveyancing markets follows a period of several months during which firms across the country have begun ;redundancy ­programme consultations.

Among these South East firm ASB Law is set to cut costs by closing its Brighton and Horsham offices in a move likely to affect around 70 staff. The firm does not anticipate that the closures will affect any fee-earners and it intends to absorb some of the staff into its Crawley and Maidstone offices.

In Devon Bond Pearce is hoping to avoid any further culls by shutting its Exeter office and giving 60 staff the option of moving to its ­Plymouth or Bristol bases.

Last year the firm cut 25 lawyers from its personal injury practice after losing a Post Office contract.

Local rival TLT Solicitors has axed 11 staff, including six fee-earners and one member of support staff, from its Bristol office. The cuts have been made in the licensing team – an industry that has been hit severely by the economic slowdown.

The firm’s licensing practice, home to four partners and 32 fee-earners, has seen work tail off at the end of a busy three-year period, ­during which it helped the pub industry adapt to ­massive legislative changes. In addition, the licensing industry is shrinking, with the British Beer & Pub Association reporting that 1,500 pubs closed down in 2007.