Eversheds CEO: “Everything we’ve done has had culture at the heart”

Eversheds chief executive Bryan Hughes has told The Lawyer in an exclusive interview that “everything we’ve done has had culture at the heart”, as news broke that 166 staff at the firm face the axe.

Bryan Hughes
Bryan Hughes

Hughes made the comment about culture, adding that it was the most important thing about the firm, to The Lawyer in a video interview for the Hot 100, which celebrates industry leaders and is published on Monday.

His comments come as the firm announced that 166 staff – 82 lawyers and 84 non-lawyers – across the UK, Asia and Copenhagen are at risk of losing their jobs as the firm seeks to align itself under its new three-year strategy (24 January 2013).

In addition to the comments about culture, Hughes said in the Hot 100 interview: “We celebrate our own differences and like to set our own standards,” adding that: “A lot of the international part of our business, it’s still in investment mode and we need to get it into return mode.”

The latter comment sheds light on the firm’s decision to make global managing partner Lee Ransion interim managing partner of Asia, replacing Nick Seddon, who will leave the firm. The structural changes come as Eversheds looks to bring its Asia offices in line with the rest of the business.

In a statement, the firm said: “Our current management team were tasked four years ago with establishing the Eversheds brand and achieving critical mass. This has been successfully achieved. The next stage of our journey in Asia is to drive closer integration with the rest of our global business and continue to invest in high calibre front-line practitioners, in particular in corporate, finance and litigation. We’re reorganising our local management structure in light of these priorities.”

Eversheds also looks set to close its Copenhagen office, which is part of the firm’s UK LLP, as part of the review, following tepid demand from clients. The firm said that it was in tie-up talks with another local practice, which may give some Eversheds staff the chance to over to the local practice.

“The reality is that our [Copenhagen] office didn’t have a large share of the market and depended on referrals from other offices, and the demand from clients from other offices was not significant,” said Hughes, speaking to The Lawyer yesterday.

Speaking about Eversheds’ previous redundancies, which saw 735 staff lose their jobs amid four rounds of cuts between 2008 and 2009, Hughes told The Lawyer in this week’s feature: “You don’t have to make unpopular decisions [to be a law firm manager] but you do have to make the right decisions. I’m in the role to protect and sustain the business. If you can’t make difficult decisions you shouldn’t be in the job.”