Penningtons is axeing more than 20 jobs including some partners as part of a sweeping cost cutting exercise designed to boost profits and put the firm on a sounder financial footing.

But senior partner David Stedman has dismissed suggestions that the firm could seek to sell out to another practice.

“We have been independent for the last 200 years and have every intention of remaining that way for another 200,” Stedman said.

He revealed that Penningtons will focus on three areas including IT, energy and commercial property. But he said it will also retain an interest in marine and aviation, private client and matrimonial work.

“We needed to cut overheads. We were overpaying for a lot of properties,” he said.

Penningtons intends to vacate its head office in the City by autumn.

The practice has served redundancy notices on a number of secretaries, consultants and assistant solicitors. A handful of partners are leaving by “mutual agreement,” said Stedman.

“We are setting ourselves on a course to generate more profits and focus on the areas where we have expertise.”

The number of partners at the firm fell from 66 in 1995 to 43 in April 1996, and total staff numbers have dropped from 359 to 279.