Eversheds to cull 166 jobs across the UK and Asia as new strategy takes hold

Up to 166 jobs are at risk across Eversheds’ UK and Asia offices, with the firm’s Copenhagen office set to disappear altogether, as the firm seeks to realign itself under its new strategy.

Lee Ranson
Lee Ranson

According to the firm, 82 lawyers and 84 non-lawyers are at risk of losing their jobs following the announcement of the redundancy consultation. An Eversheds source said that the firm would offer enhanced redundancy packages – understood to be double the statutory requirement – to those who lose their jobs.

As part of the changes global managing partner Lee Ranson will become interim Asia managing partner, replacing Nick Seddon, who will leave the firm. According to the firm this is part of its strategy to drive closer integration between Eversheds’ Asia offices and the rest of the business. Other management changes are also expected in Asia.

The firm is also looking to close its Copenhagen office, which is part of the UK LLP, after deciding that there is not enough client interest to keep it open. Eversheds said it is in talks with another firm about forming a relationship and possibly transferring some of its staff.

In the UK, Eversheds’ marketing, IT and facilities teams will be cut down, and lawyers in the real estate and company commercial practices also face the axe.

The consultation period began today. A statement from the firm said: “Alternatives to redundancy will be considered wherever possible, including both redeployment and relocation within the business together with opportunities within Eversheds AGILE.”

Chief executive Bryan Hughes revealed his new three-year plan for the firm at a partner meeting in June 2012 (9 July 2012).

Between 2008 and 2009 Eversheds completed four separate redundancy rounds with some 735 staff losing their jobs (10 September 2009). At the time the firm offered departing employees only the statutory minimum redundancy package, which was one week’s salary for every year worked, providing the employee had been with the firm for at least two years. The cuts had a large effect on morale at Eversheds and the firm attracted a lot of criticism for offering only the statutory minimum.

In a recent interview with The Lawyer Hughes said of the 2009 redundancies: “As with many law firms at the time, redundancies were new to us. When we met with our assessor from Investors in People he said one of the problems we had was that morale was so strong beforehand the firm had further to fall than most. I had to spend a lot of time getting people back onside and part of the morale problem was that we needed to get people busy again.

“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.”

Eversheds also cut 75 back-office roles in 2011 (26 May 2011) as a result of an outsourcing deal with Accenture that led to human resources and financial services staff across the firm’s regional UK offices losing their jobs.

For a video interview with Hughes, click here.