More work could be heading to the property department at Eversheds in Birmingham after the firm cut ten real estate assistants at its London office.
In its third round of redundancy in the last year, the company let the ten people go in London, at the same time as announcing it would be cutting back on trainee intake for this year.
It blamed the poor market conditions for forcing it to cut back on the London real estate department. But sources at the firm have claimed the London staff were working at a relatively high capacity and this would mean work being moved out to the stronger property departments in places like Birmingham.
Eversheds chief executive David Gray said: “As has been well publicised, the real estate market has been particularly badly hit as a result of the current economic climate. As a result, we are proposing to make up to 10 lawyers redundant in our London real estate team. We are looking at a number of options to identify other roles or opportunities within the business for those affected.
“Whilst today’s news is regrettable, it is right that we have acted to secure the long-term sustainable health of our real estate team which remains one of the largest and strongest in Europe.”
In September last year the Legal500 list described Eversheds Midlands commercial property practice as “first-class”, and “comparable to the leading real estate lawyers in London, never mind Birmingham”.
According to Legal500, head of real estate Gurjit Atwal and David Jones “pay close attention to clients’ needs”.
The practice is strong in public sector work, particularly regeneration, acting for an enviable list of clients including English Partnerships, Advantage West Midlands and Birmingham City Council. And it has also been focusing on work on LABVs (local asset-backed vehicles), a form of cutting-edge private and public sector partnering. Eversheds has been hard-hit by the recession, and the firm is one of just two in the country, along with DLA Piper, to have gone through three rounds of recession. More than 70 lawyers have already lost their jobs at Eversheds over the last year.
The Colmore Row office of Eversheds is also preparing to take a hit to its intake this year, after the firm announced it would be asking nearly half of its trainees to defer their starting date to 2010 in return for a £5,000 payoff.
It is looking to defer 31 out of 73 trainees who were set to join over the next year. It is also offering the option of a 12-month contract as a paralegal with the firm. The Birmingham office – as one of the major branches of the company – is likely to be affected by the move.
The company’s website shows it has effectively suspended its graduate recruitment scheme for the moment.
When it was announced Mr Gray described the move as “regrettable” but added: “We would ask our graduates to understand that we have had to act in the commercial interests of the firm as a whole in order to ensure that when they do arrive they will get the very best and busiest start to their careers.”