"We made it through the pandemic, we...hang on, this isn't Canary Wharf."
Clifford Chance is due to make up to 73 staff redundant after reassessing how its business will function following the pandemic.
Between 44 and 73 staff will be affected, said the firm, all of them in business services teams hard-hit by the working-from-home culture which many firms are seeking to embed.
Secretaries, document production staff and those in the mail room will be offered voluntary redundancy packages in a "hybrid voluntary/compulsory redundancy approach", said the firm. It said it hoped take-up of the packages in offer would reduce "the number of compulsory redundancies needed".
Clifford Chance teams are by no means the only ones getting hammered. Job culls are rolling through the legal sector, with business services teams and particularly secretaries taking the brunt. Covid has accelerated existing IT trends which were threatening support roles, and forced additional changes to working practices which have seen lawyers getting to grips with sending their own post, scanning the rest, and generally using fewer in-office resources as they split their time with homeworking.
In January, Norton Rose Fulbright set about making 132 redundancies, 111 of which were non-fee-earners. RollOnFriday revealed in October that Fieldfisher was cutting secretaries, and in November that CMS and Clyde & Co were making cuts, along with Gately and Squire Patton Boggs. In March, Linklaters offered all 225 of its secretaries voluntary redundancy and, unlike CC, said it had no plans to make any compulsory redundancies.
Clifford Chance managed to avoid furloughing staff or cutting staff pay or jobs during the pandemic. But now, said Regional Managing Partner Michael Bates, "Following a thorough review of our UK operations looking at the impact of Covid and accelerating technological change, we have identified some areas where we need to make changes".
"Sadly, these proposals will also result in the departure of some of our valued colleagues. This is never an easy decision, and not one that we have taken lightly".
"We have entered into a consultation with the affected teams, and will also be offering them a voluntary redundancy scheme. Throughout, we will seek to reach our final decisions in a fair and inclusive way that respects our people and reflects our culture. And we will do all that we can to support all of our colleagues as we move through the process".
If your firm is wielding the axe, whether inclusively or not, write in.