DLA begins consultation with 251 staff after review of UK business

DLA Piper has announced that it is to begin a redundancy consultation affecting 251 lawyers and back office staff, following a review of its UK business.

The firm will consult on the closure of its 85-person Glasgow office as well as the closure or divestment of its 50-strong defendant insurance practice, as well as the consolidation into one location of its document production unit, which currently employs 116 people across the firm’s eight UK offices.

The consultation is set to begin on 28 November and will complete early in 2013, with the potential Glasgow office closure unlikely to take place until the end of the financial year.

With DLA’s current UK-wide headcount currently standing at 2,494, the redundancy talks will involve roughly 10% of all UK-based staff.

DLA’s Glasgow office has 10 partners, 25 fee earners and 50 business support staff. The firm has indicated that some vacancies at its Edinburgh office will be made available for those affected by the closure of the Glasgow base, with the number of jobs offered forming part of the consultation. Those made redundant will be offered an “enhanced scheme”, according to the firm.

Due to being contracted to Scotland rather than any particular office, the firm’s Scottish trainees will not be affected by the redundancies and will continue their development in Edinburgh.

One senior partner at a Scots law firm commented: “DLA never really got its act together in Glasgow, never made traction, possibly because it merged with the wrong firm when opening there.

“Operating solely out of Edinburgh is a peculiar model – I don’t think any major law firm has made a success of having one office in Scotland so it will be interesting to see how they go. The closure of Glasgow will certainly offer opportunities to pick up work and talent and we’ll be looking at that.”

DLA is also actively seeking a buyer for its defendant insurance practice, which is largely based across its Sheffield and Birmingham offices. The practice comprises four partners, 27 fee earners and 19 support staff.

Meanwhile, DLA’s 116-strong document production unit is to be centralised in Leeds, where the firm currently has a team of 23 staff, all of whom are included in the consultation. Transfers to Leeds will be offered to staff based in the firm’s other UK offices in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Sheffield.

The news comes after Legal Week revealed in June this year that DLA was conducting a firmwide review of office and partner profitability, with the transatlantic firm’s regional UK offices expected to come under scrutiny. The review, led by management including global co-chairman Tony Angel, was understood to be part of a move away from less profitable work in a bid to increase profits per equity partner.

The announcement brings to an end to the UK review, with no other action required should the proposed changes come into effect.

A firm spokesperson said: “Following a comprehensive review of our UK business designed to ensure that we are operating in a manner, in the locations, and across the practice areas that support both our strategic objectives and the needs of our clients, we have begun a period of consultation in the UK that will consider the possible closure of our Glasgow office, the closure or divestment of our defendant insurance practice and the consolidation into one location of our current multi-site document production unit.”

The latest cuts come after a number of rounds of redundancies at DLA during 2008 and 2009, with around 150 staff affected in the UK as well as more than 50 in Asia.


Full breakdown of staff affected