Law firm announces cutbacks leading to 80 job losses

Colin Flanagan

National law firm, Freeths, which has offices in Liverpool and Manchester, is axing around 80 jobs.

The firm has announced a redundancy consultation affecting staff across all its 13 offices which is likely to result in the loss of the roles, split more or less evenly between lawyers and support staff.

Although Freeths has seen significant growth over the past five years and achieved its target of £100m turnover in the 2019/20 financial year, this has necessitated recruitment ahead of need in order to deal with anticipated work demands.

The reversal of this trend brought about by the pandemic has, therefore, inevitably resulted in over-capacity.

In the light of a cautious analysis of the prospects for economic recovery, the board has reluctantly come to the conclusion that a significant realignment of resources is necessary.

Chairman Colin Flanagan said: “I am greatly saddened and disappointed that, as a result of external circumstances beyond our control, we are going to lose some of our excellent team members.

“We have worked hard to build an exciting law firm with real momentum and one which truly values its people.

“It is a matter of huge regret that we are faced with some contraction in our work for the first time since the financial crisis, and that we find ourselves needing to reduce our staff numbers.

“I am, however, confident that this action is in the interests of the business and our clients and will allow us to move forward with renewed confidence for a successful future.”

The announcement was made by Colin Flanagan in an email to staff, and will be followed immediately by video conference meetings with the staff council and with all potentially affected staff members.

These meetings will set out a number of alternative proposals, such as paid sabbaticals and reduced hours, which the firm hopes will reduce the number of redundancies implemented.

This follows from previous measures taken by the firm in response to the current situation, including suspension of partner distributions and reduction in monthly drawings, with board members taking a 30% cut.

Staff members also agreed to a temporary salary reduction which runs until August.

The firm has been holding staff council meetings on a bi-weekly basis throughout the coronavirus crisis, and the council has been provided with regular updates about the progress of the business, including detailed financial information.

Council minutes are then circulated to all staff members.