Clarke Willmott puts 40 jobs on the line

<a class=Clarke Willmott puts 40 jobs on the line” />Clarke Willmott has joined the growing number of firms putting lawyers under threat of redundancy.

The Birmingham-headquartered firm, which also has offices in Bristol, Southampton and Taunton, said redundancies would affect up to 40 fee-earners and support staff across its network and that the consultation would “impact on most legal divisions”.

“We’re not doing this as a matter of survival,” said chief executive David Sedgwick. The aim for the firm, he added, was to come out of the economic slump “leaner and meaner”.

Sedgwick continued: “These steps are being taken in direct response to lower demand for legal services being felt by all firms at the moment, and we don’t take them lightly.”

Clarke Willmott saw turnover rise 18 per cent to £53.2m for the 2007-08 year-end, while average profit per equity partner (PEP) rose by 22 per cent to £317,000 – up from £260,000 the previous year.

Sedgwick said the firm “had not done as well as we would have liked at the half-year point”, adding that the redundancy programme was a result of this.

Clarke Willmott has moved headquarters three times in the last three years, from Truro to Bristol to Birmingham. This has prompted questions about its plans, with one partner saying: “The strategy is a little bit fuzzy.”

But a senior partner close to the firm told The Lawyer: “It’s having a bit of a clear out, but it’s still managing to pick up new clients.”