Thursday was another turbulent day for Birmingham’s legal firms as the sector continued to suffer from the global financial crisis.
At Eversheds, on Colmore Row, there were rumours a job-cutting scheme could be set to expand as the firm’s real estate lawyers felt the impact of the tightening in the construction sector.
Meanwhile, a partner at the Birmingham office of Hammonds on Edmund Street left the day after an official ban on resignation expired.
Dispute resolution partner Ann Benzimra resigned, although she will be working at the company for another seven months.
She was one of three partners at the firm to retire immediately after the end of the company’s “lock-in” - an emergency measure restricting resignations to certain dates which was brought in after a financial crisis at the firm two years ago.
A Hammonds spokesman confirmed the partners were leaving, but would not comment, other than to wish them well.
At Eversheds, the second largest legal firm in Birmingham, discussions continued on job cuts which became necessary after the firm was dropped by construction giant Taylor Wimpey, when Taylor took its real estate legal services in house to cut costs.
The company confirmed 33 lawyers – including five in Birmingham – and an unspecified number of support staff would be let go because of the knock-on effects of the credit crunch.
However there were fears that more jobs could be lost after the firm extended beyond the original month-long timeline for ‘Project August’ - the internal strategic review prompted by the difficult trading conditions.
But the company denied this, with a spokeswoman describing the rumours as “just tittle-tattle”.
Gurjit Atwal, real estate office location head in Birmingham, said: “Like every business in these difficult market conditions, we need to review our operations. The decline in the real estate sector means that, in common with many of our competitors, we are proposing to make targeted cutbacks in our real estate team firmwide.
“In Birmingham, this could impact up to 5 lawyers and related support staff.
“This has been a difficult decision for us to make, however, it is important to put this in context as with a continuing real estate group of nearly 400 lawyers, we will remain one of the largest and strongest real estate groups in Europe.”
In recent days, two of Birmingham’s most prominent legal firms have announced job cuts in the face of the credit crunch.
On Tuesday Cobbetts, which has an office in Colmore Square, said it was likely to cut around 40 fee-earning positions across its Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester offices because of the poor financial conditions.
And last week Wragge & Co, the largest legal firm in Birmingham, announced 30 redundancies from its 640 fee earners, with the majority coming from the real estate sector.