Freshfields offers voluntary redundancy to 180 London secretaries

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has offered voluntary redundancy to all of its London secretarial staff, in a move that affects roughly 180 individuals.

The magic circle firm began the process before Christmas in an attempt to create a more defined career progression path for PAs.

The firm is not planning to make any compulsory redundancies at this time although the process is likely to result in a reduction in overall secretarial headcount.

All of the firm’s PAs in London have been offered a choice to either: take voluntary redundancy; apply to be considered for an executive assistant (EA) role that comes with more money and responsibility; or stay in their current roles.

The process began in October and is expected to conclude later this month. The terms of the voluntary severance package on offer are not known.

The move comes amid a push by Freshfields to overhaul its business to increase efficiency. The magic circle firm opened a legal services centre in Manchester in 2015, to provide back-office support and low-cost legal work, with the centre expected to eventually house to up 700 staff.

The firm announced plans to open a second legal services centre in Canada last year, with a third centre in Asia potentially on the cards at a later date.

As part of these changes, the firm is also set to move out of its Fleet Street headquarters by 2021.

Other firms making back-office job cuts during the past year include DLA Piper, which cut 175 UK support jobs last year following the opening of a low cost centre in Warsaw in 2015, while Norton Rose Fulbright announced plans to cut 170 jobs worldwide, including 60 in London, following the 2016 launch of a business services centre in Manila in the Philippines.