Russell Jones & Walker has enlisted the services of one of the UK’s largest unions the GMB to help the firm undergo a radical restructuring programme which will affect staff across the board, including fee-earners and partners.
The management hopes that the process will ensure the firm continues to be a player in a rapidly changing market.
Managing partner Neil Kinsella told The Lawyer: “We believe there’s a long-term future in this market. But it’s vital for any firm that wishes to take advantage of opportunities that are now arising to modernise.”
At this stage, it is unknown whether redundancies will be made, but all staff, right through to partner level, will have their roles reviewed. The management conceded that the new firm is likely to be “leaner”.
However, Kinsella said: “We’ll be looking to retrain people and to change their working methods rather than lose them.”
The firm will continue with a structure that is more corporate than partnership. “We believe that the old-fashioned partnership model is no longer appropriate,” said Kinsella. The firm is also looking to switch to a more client-oriented focus, rather than a practice group structure.
The move comes as the option of fee-sharing within the legal market could be introduced as early as summer 2004, which will allow external funding for law firms.
The move follows a round of 40 redundancies last year, as well as five redundancies that came as a result of the Leeds office being closed earlier this year. However, Kinsella emphasised that the new restructuring was related not only to increasing competition in the personal injury market, but also regulatory changes. The process is expected to take 9-12 months.