Ashursts faces deficit in property department

Ashurst Morris Crisp's property department is struggling to overcome a deficit in its budget as an exodus of its assistants continues.

According to an internal memo leaked to The Lawyer, the property department is attempting to recover from a deficit in its yearly budget.

The memo, sent internally to lawyers by Simon Cookson, head of property at Ashursts, says that during October the property department achieved 114 per cent of the monthly target. But the memo reads that this will eat up “nearly 40 per cent (£224,000) of the deficit”.

It also states: “Target for Nov. is a little (£133,000) lower so we should be able to pick up some more shortfall during the month.” When questioned by The Lawyer, Cookson refused to give a figure for the total deficit.

However he admits: “It is not a significant one. We have predicted to grow the business by a large amount and we are meeting budget with no significant differential.”

The department is experiencing a series of departures at assistant level, the most recent of which includes highly rated Iain Gilbey, a planning assistant in property who is leaving to head Shoosmiths planning department in the new year.

Property assistant Charlie Proddow is joining Devonshires and Jamie Chapman is leaving to join Clayton Utze. Claire Pykett is also believed to be leaving but refuses to comment. According to an industry source three assistants have already left the department and it is having problems finding replacements.

Cookson says: “We have a very strong growing business and we need to fuel that with good people. We are not prepared to fill our practice with people not of the highest quality.”

A source claims that morale in the department is also low, saying that partners are 'aloof' and “neither know nor care there is a crisis”. But Cookson insists the department is experiencing encouraging growth. But in his memo he says: “Will also try to be walking around more.”