80 jobs to be axed at law firm

Colin Flanagan

National law firm Freeths, which has offices in Leeds and Sheffield, says it is having to make about 80 lawyers and support staff redundant.

The company has today announced a redundancy consultation, affecting staff across its 13 offices.

Freeths says it has seen significant growth over the last five years and achieved its target of £100m turnover in the 2019/20 financial year.

This necessitated recruitment ahead of need in order to deal with anticipated work demands. But the reversal of this trend brought about by the pandemic has therefore resulted in “over-capacity” at the firm.

Freeths says in light of a cautious analysis of the prospects for economic recovery, its Board has reluctantly concluded a significant realignment of resources is necessary.

Colin Flanagan, chairman of Freeths, 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 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 redundancies announcement was made by Flanagan in an e-mail 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 Freeths hopes will reduce the number of redundancies implemented.

It follows previous measures taken by the company 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.