There was more bad news on the redundancy front this week as Addleshaw Goddard announced yesterday that 24 fee earners were at risk, and Irwin Mitchell confirmed that nine staff had been booted out in April.

Addleshaws is in the uncomfortable situation of announcing the consultation at the same time as reporting a rise in profits per equity partner of 37% (with turnover and profit also up 5% and 30% respectively). The explanation, as ever, is that in this difficult and nervous market, senior people on big money are singularly failing to leave. As the law firm model normally relies upon natural attrition, the only solution for increasingly top-heavy firms is to undertake a bit of unnatural enforced attrition, as recent examples have shown.

Paul Devitt, the firm's Managing Partner, said that "the proportion of our senior fee earners (particularly 7+ years' qualification) has steadily increased over recent years while all other levels have decreased". So "the difficult decision" had been taken "to rebalance the shape and size of our front-line fee earner resource by reducing the number of non-partner fee earners".

    An Addleshaws' lawyer celebrates the firm's 30% rise in profits by clearing his desk

Meanwhile, Irwin Mitchell has confirmed that nine members of staff were made redundant a couple of months ago. A spokesman said that "a small number of staff, including support staff, were made redundant in our Business Legal services division towards the end of our last financial year in April but there is no redundancy consultation programme currently underway at Irwin Mitchell and we have no plans to begin one".

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Anonymous 22 June 12 20:12

Loads of firms are pushing out significant numbers of lawyer through "stealth" processes. Even where firms make formal announcements and give specific numbers, the actual numbers leaving by one means or another are generally a lot higher.

The scary thing though is that the economy is heading ever closer towards the cliff edge. This is really just a foretaste of what is to come.

Anonymous 23 June 12 15:54

While it is not good to see people losing their jobs (I have been in that situation), having dealt with solicitors and barristers over the past two years, I honestly can't see what the legal profession does anyway.

Anonymous 25 June 12 14:12

@ anonymous user 22/06/2012 19:12 - Many of the so-called "Silver Circle" firms are the worst offenders in making stealth redundancies.

It's interesting to look at the total number of lawyers in these firms' London offices, which as if by magic is falling despite no formal redundacy processes and new trainees qualifying.

Anonymous 26 June 12 14:08

At least one of the North East firms has begun its annual round of kick outs (which are marketed internally as "performance issues" but aren't).

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