Last December Bevan Brittan outsourced its back office function. And only two months on, nearly half of the outsourced staff have been told that they are facing redundancy.

72 people were outsourced to Intelligent Office UK. And now 27 of them have been told that they are at risk of redundancy. Insiders claim that the consultation process has been demoralising and unprofessional, and it has made some at their old firm very uncomfortable. One Bevan Brittan partner told RollOnFriday that "years of loyal service count for nothing, and the partners are not allowed to interfere or influence the process. We're told to let IO deal with their own employees". He added that this was from a public sector firm "that espouses all the 'people are our biggest asset' guff in all of our tenders to clients".

    Some former Bevan Brittan staff, next week

A spokeswoman for IO said that "it is likely that there will be a very small number of compulsory redundancies. These will be confirmed next week when the process is finalised". She added that "there has been partner involvement from concept through to conclusion of the process and all relevant facts and circumstances have been taken into account".

Whatever the final figures, it looks like this outsourcing will result in a significant number of staff departures and a great deal of bad feeling. Something that will need to be borne in mind by the legion of firms looking to copy the model.

Tip Off ROF

Comments

Anonymous 10 February 12 09:32

No surprise here - the firm has been chronically mis-managed for a while now, and the outsourcing deal was clearly a way for cowardly partners to avoid having to deal with capacity and performance issues after several prior rounds of redundancies Pretty pathetic stuff. Sad to see a once-decent firm reduced to its present state.

Anonymous 10 February 12 09:37

Without wishing to be too harsh, notwithstanding the manner that it has been dealt with, isn't redundancy of positions the whole point of outsourcing? One central provider of services can provide efficiency gains that a law firm cannot, resulting in less staff being needed to resource the firm's needs.

Anonymous 10 February 12 09:52

...or they could just have had the courage to deal with the problems themselve, rather than pass the buck. You get the impression that if they thought they could get away with doing this with the lawyers too, they'd be straight on the phone to "Intelligent Office" (heh).

(Not involved in the process - just a faintly appalled bystander)

Anonymous 10 February 12 10:47

A spokeswoman for IO said that "it is likely that there will be a very small number of compulsory redundancies. These will be confirmed next week when the process is finalised".

I don't see 27 out of 72 as 'a very small number'! I feel extremely sorry for the staff involved. As someone who has been through this type of process in the recent past, it is demeaning and a sure fire spirit/confidence killer.
I wish the staff involved the very best of luck, because you can be assured this will not be the only time it happens.

Anonymous 10 February 12 11:37

I have watched this entire process, as the partner of one of the people 'at risk'.
The past 5/6 months have been drawn out, depressing and, above all, insulting to my partner and all of her secretarial colleagues. They have been through a very demeaning assessment process, all at the hands of a company that seems incapable of sending out one document without with spelling and grammatical mistakes!
If outsourcing is the future in providing secretarial support to law firms then I would advise all skilled secretaries to get out of that sector as soon as you can. The destruction of your varied and skilled role means that job satisfaction, and subsequently the quality of the work, is about to drop dramatically!
Why any of secretary would opt to work for a company that recently published an article describing legal secretaries as 'jack of all trades, master of none' and saying they are all overpaid is beyond me. Oh, hang on, none of them opted to at all!
Roll on Monday and I wish all the very best to all those involved.

Anonymous 10 February 12 12:21

IO...IO.... It's out of work we go.....

Anonymous 10 February 12 12:40

As a partner of one of the Secretaries involved, I share the thoughts of the person above. The entire long drawn out process has been depressing, demeaning and above all cowardly.
The partners at Bevan Brittan should hang their heads in shame, putting good people through this.
How on earth can they still have the brass neck to work with any of the secretaries left after this sorry process has been acted out. Any working relationship, built up over many years in some cases, has been completely destroyed.
The paperwork from Intelligent Office is flawed and full of spelling mistakes. You couldn't make it up!
Good luck and best wishes to all involved.

Anonymous 10 February 12 12:48

I am not affected by this but on the sidelines. Although IO have said there will be few compulsory redundancies, in fact they have made it clear they are reluctant to accept voluntary redundancy. Secretarial roles are being downgraded to admin and typing pool roles inevitably I am sure to enable IO to bring in inferior cheaper staff in the future - client care then, I think, will go out the window.

Anonymous 10 February 12 14:42

Despite the shock of the announcement I think that the BB partnership should put their hands up for the total mismanagement of the whole affair. They did not even issue an email to the staff concerned on the day they "went over" to IO thanking them for their previous service. Some staff have worked for the firm for over 20 years - the words "thank you" surely cost nothing.

However, this is the way of BB - even the most genial of partners do not have any backbone or moral courage whilst standing behind the decision to thank staff. You reap what you sow.

Anonymous 10 February 12 15:48

I think BB are being very considerate offering all that valuable secretarial expertise to the competition, as anyone with any sense would not want to stick around working in the current environment and atmosphere and move to somewhere were they will be welcomed for their expertise and diligence which is something that IO and BB have obviously overlooked. the next thing could be the European BB Call centre which will also end up paying the minimum wage for the inexperienced Crack On !!

Anonymous 10 February 12 16:52

The fact that a company like "Intelligent" Office even exists is indicative of the crappy world we live in. How anyone can sleep at night knowing that a company can buy staff from another company and then proceed to sack nearly half of them to replace them with cheaper and less-skilled staff is a miracle. Who's next? Start worrying about your job!

Bevan Brittan is about to see the quality of their secretarial work go right down as the many experienced members of staff are sent on their way and replaced with some poorly paid, unmotivated, semi-literate typing robots. The previous comments about the communication from "Intelligent" Office are SO TRUE - they can barely string a sentence together. This doesn't bode well for the quality of new staff they'll be hiring.

Once again the desire for short term gain wins out over longevity and common sense. Welcome to the future.

Anonymous 10 February 12 17:11


Clearly BB will be out of business shortly as why would prospective clients risk having their business undertaken by a now thoroughly demoralised, disinterested and demeaned workforce?

As for IO, what a shower! The sooner they are exposed as the "inadequate office" and spirit-breaking hatchet operators, the better for all concerned.

So sorry for all the excellent staff they did have.

Anonymous 11 February 12 14:10

I loved it at Bevan Brittan, one of the best places I have worked in many many years in law, until this unbelievable company were hired. Now ..... all my loyalty has gone and my belief in the fact that they ever respected and cared for their employees. Intelligent Office have no idea about the legal secretarial role, no idea about communication, no idea about being fair. I am truly saddened by it all and it has caused great stress. I also think their comment published (as mentioned below) - "Jack of all trades, master of none" is absolute nonsense. Legal secretaries go into certain types of law as they find it extremely interesting and with the experience gain a lot of knowledge on the type of law they do! Also who do they think they are telling us what position "they" think we are capable of ...... HONESTLY!!!!!!

Anonymous 11 February 12 15:08

I feel sorry for the Bevan Brittan fee earners who are left without sufficient support. IO have already confirmed they cannot accept voluntary redundancy through fear of not having a workforce as the numbers volunteering for redundancy are higher than the positions available to be made redundant! The original BB secretaries will quickly move on and IO will hire their own staff, but judging on previous comments made by their management about whether potential recruits have died their hair properly and sorted out their roots I doubt they'll be concerned about the skills they retain.

Anonymous 11 February 12 16:14

Completely agree with all of these comments! It's just a shame that Bevan Brittan cannot open their eyes to the huge mess IO has created! Good luck to all of the secretaries involved - I hope you go onto find better jobs and will once again be happy in your job!

Anonymous 11 February 12 19:07

Here is a direct quote from the article entitled 'Jack of all Trades or Master of None' written by a Director of IO:

"Mediocrity is often the norm and that trend needs to be bucked. After all, relative to other industries, law firm secretarial remuneration is hardly mediocre."

This is just one excerpt that jumps out of the piece. So, this company is now in charge of a large number of Legal Secretaries.... are these employees supposed to feel valued?

What a sad state of affairs. Bad call BB!

Anonymous 13 February 12 15:56

Is the decision to outsource ever taken for reasons other than cost? Surely the partners knew a reduction in cost would also result in the reduction of headcount, quality and morale? The recession has been a reminder to many that partners value PEP above all things. The loyalty and 'good place to work' stuff only matters when times are good. I hope every staff member affected finds a job elsewhere. Good luck all.

Anonymous 13 February 12 16:03

Why no comments from BB management? Surely they want to say something in the interests of balance?!

Roll On Friday 15 February 12 12:42

I do wonder why all the comments are 'anonymous' if you're that outraged stand up and be counted! I used to work as a secretary at BB and was extremely happy there, it used to be fantastic place work. Needless to say, I have watched this whole process as close friends of mine have been put through it and I agree wholeheartedly that it has been completely mishandled by both BB and IO.

Having said that - the saying 'You reap what you sow' springs to mind and I feel very sorry for all the secretarial, admin and fee earning staff that are left to pick up the pieces.

Anonymous 15 February 12 12:51

I am making another entry in relation to the comment from the person today, 15.2.2012 at 12.42.

The reason I suspect a lot of these comments are anonymous is because it is a very upsetting and difficult situation without IO knowing who made the comments, and judging their situation on that, together with all the other rubbish they are judging everyone on!

Anonymous 17 February 12 13:58

I would like to know, when this whole mess blows over, if it ever does, what the firm is going to do about the miserable moral of all the staff left behind.

Anonymous 18 February 12 18:36

Having read through all of the comments below and as a 20 year previous employee of BB all I can say is thank you so much BB for making me redundant last year. Having seen and heard from my very competent, experienced secretarial friends I am appalled by what has happened. I wish everyone at BB, secretarial, admin and support staff the best of luck for the future and hope you come through this process with your heads held high...leave IO to pick up the pieces after losing such good staff and I can't believe the Partners have not supported their loyal and hard working secretarial staff. Such a shame a once lovely firm to work for has hit an all time low. Glad I am out of it !!!

Anonymous 19 February 12 16:42

IO, IO it's off to work we go - oops, got the lyrics wrong!
IO, IO it's on the dole we go.....

Anonymous 21 February 12 13:26

I see that as of last Friday BB has a new CEO. Perhaps he will want to do something to improve the firm's tarnished reputation for not caring about its employees/former employees?

Anonymous 22 February 12 10:28

perhaps anonymous user at 1326 yesterday would like to get their facts straight

Anonymous 22 February 12 18:59

At last, management join the comments with a highly intelligent comment which I am sure fills those left behind with great confidence.

Anonymous 22 February 12 21:47

Bloody hell, I'm management? Wish someone had told me! heh

Anonymous 23 February 12 11:10

OK for anonymous user at 22/02/2012 18:59 let us by all means be more precise.

Duncan Weir has been appointed managing partner from the start of the new financial year and Andrew Manning is assisting with the transition to the new management structure. See:

http://www.thelawyer.com/bevan-brittan-shakes-up-management-with-ceo-departure/1011488.article

Now, the lawyer may have that wrong, it wouldn't be the first time. But on the assumption that it is correct the earlier comment that Mr Weir might want to do something to improve the firm's tarnished reputation for not caring about its employees/former employees stands.

Anonymous 05 March 12 22:28

Listen ...... is that the sound of tumbleweed rolling through the floors of BB ..... :(

Anonymous 04 April 12 14:00

I believe Rickerbys LLP in Cheltenham is following the same process – something for their support staff to look forward to! Fortunately the legal landscape is changing - roll on Tesco law.

Anonymous 04 April 12 14:11

Here is a direct quote from the article entitled 'Jack of all Trades or Master of None' written by a Director of IO:

"Mediocrity is often the norm and that trend needs to be bucked. After all, relative to other industries, law firm secretarial remuneration is hardly mediocre."

Perhaps it is time for Legal Secretaries to unite and unionise to fight this threat?

Anonymous 06 April 12 23:59

We have had exactly the same situation happen in Cobham surrey. Jobs tuped across to Intelligent office and then BANG!!! Very poor management by the new company INTELLIGENT OFFICE. So many redundancies and employees treated so badly!!! What a company. Very unprofessional and ruthless. Told that they would do all they could to help find new jobs for those they had to make redundant!! Their help..............Look at our website!Oh nothing available... Thats too bad.
What a joke.

Anonymous 10 April 12 16:26

I would just like to add another comment .... Intelligent Office have no respect for the staff, they are unprofessional and rude. What upsets me the most is that a company as good as Bevan Brittan were, are now being ruined by a JOKE of a company, with a JOKE of a name. However, IO will continue to ruin other law firms throughout the country and that will be the end of legal secretarial role as we know it.