Shearman & Sterling has begun a redundancy consultation in its London office which is likely to see the loss 18 secretarial and support staff.

The firm has also revealed that is has frozen salaries and reduced its bonus pool in response to the difficult economic climate.

Support staff in the US have also been affected by the cuts, with details on the scale of the layoffs expected to be announced tomorrow.

The moves comes after a disappointing set of financial results for the 2008 calendar year.

UK revenues at Shearman & Sterling dropped by 14.2 per cent to $113.8m in the 2008 financial year compared to a drop in global turnover of around five per cent (19 February).

London managing partner Anthony Ward said: “This is a very difficult time for all law firms and we’re sorry to have to take these steps. We’re consulting thoroughly with all the staff affected and will do all we can to support them in every way possible in the coming weeks.”

The redundancy consultation period ends in April. It is understood that no lawyers are affected.