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Law firms seek to cut costs, starting with free lunches

 5 November 2008 

UK law firms are feeling the pinch and seeking to save money any way they
can, in an effort to stem further redundancies. That means no more lavish
parties, and even the free sandwiches have been scrapped.
A survey published today in the November edition of Legal Business magazine,
reveals that that the past five years of booming business, during which the
top 100 UK law firms made £4.73 billion in profits, have come to a grinding
James Baxter, editor of Legal Business said: “UK law firms have had a
terrific run over the past five years or so, making more and more money from
the booming global economy.”
But the top 100 is now faced with a £2 billion annual salary bill, with many
of the 48,000 solicitors employed in those firms left with little or no work
to do.
As a result, organisations are seeking to cut catering, postage and travel
A three year qualified solicitor at Cambridge law firm Mills & Reeve reports
that the firm has cut costs by purchasing just one colour of files for
client work – buff.
Nabarro, a City law firm that billed its clients over £140 million in 2008,
making profits of £55 million, has cancelled its Christmas party, no longer
provides sandwiches at lunchtime training sessions, and according to one
three year qualified solicitor “cheaper hand towels have appeared in the
And according to a recently qualified solicitor at Newcastle-upon-Tyne law
firm, Ward Hadaway, it’s “second class everything, from stamps to train
“Our survey has found that it is cheaper to keep a lawyer inactive for up to
15 months rather than law them off and then have to rehire them later,” said
Baxter. “This may only delay the inevitable as we face a global recession
the like of which we have never seen before.”
But if cost cutting measures get any worse, many assistant solicitors may
decide to leave under their own accord.
One two-year qualified solicitor at City law firm Ashurst reports there’s
“no subsidy for the ski trip and nasty cheap gel pens have replaced the
Stabilo fineliners.”
How will they cope?