Wragges lays off 24 in wake of soaring staff costs

<a class=Wragges lays off 24 in wake of soaring staff costs” />Wragge & Co’s staff costs surged by £4.8m in the 2007-08 financial year after a top-of-market pay review saw salaries increase across the firm.

According to the firm’s LLP results, total staff costs increased from £39.6m in 2006-07 to £44.4m in 2007-08, with wages and salaries, which increased by £4.3m, being the biggest single cost.

Senior partner Quentin Poole (pictured) said: “We had a pay review in July 2007 when the market was hot. The increase was less than 10 per cent and accounts for about half of that cost. We also increased headcount over the year.”

The total number of staff at the firm increased by 43 over the last financial year from 1,076 in 2006-07 to 1,119 in 2007-08.

That said, the headcount has now been reduced by 24 after the completion of a redundancy consultation that launched in September with 30 fee-earners (TheLawyer.com, 22 September 2008).

All 24 of the people being made redundant are fee-earners and half of the job losses were voluntary redundancies. The largest single number is in real estate, although several groups were affected.

Poole denied that the job cuts were part of a cost-cutting initiative, arguing that they were driven by a need to keep lawyers busy in a quieter market.

The LLP accounts also revealed that the £21.1m war chest that Wragges accumulated during 2006-07 depleted by £400,000 to £20.7m during 2007-08.

Wragges made a £317,000 investment in its fledgling Hong Kong office during 2007-08, using the cash to pay for travel, property and relocation costs. The firm has two associates based in Hong Kong and one in mainland China in Guangzhou, all of whom report into UK-based IP partner Gordon Harris.

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