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BigLaw redundancies now extending to fee earners

Following reports just over a month ago about cuts to the back offices of some of the nation’s largest legal practices, more BigLaw firms have had to make difficult decisions about staffing.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 11 August 2023 Big Law
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In late June, Lawyers Weekly reported that two BigLaw firms – Clyde & Co and MinterEllison – had made redundancies to certain back-office roles.

As suggested at the time by this brand, those cuts would likely not be the last, considering current market conditions. The reasons for doing so will, of course, vary from firm to firm, but legal recruiters have hypothesised why Australia’s larger law firms may be mulling, or enacting, such cuts.

Now, Lawyers Weekly can reveal that further cuts have occurred at global player Clyde & Co.


A firm spokesperson confirmed that 10 non-partner fee earners have left the firm following a review, out of nearly 500 staff that Clyde & Co has in Australia.

“As with all large, successful and professionally managed global businesses, we constantly review our performance and operations to ensure that our teams and practices are of the right size and shape to effectively and profitably meet the changing needs of our clients around the world,” the spokesperson noted.

“While losing people from our firm is never easy, we always ensure that colleagues are supported as they seek new opportunities, and they always depart with our best wishes and thanks.”

Fellow global firm Norton Rose Fulbright has also confirmed to Lawyers Weekly that it has had to make a “small number” of redundancies across the country.

“We have completed a review of our business services teams and functions, which identified a need for those functions to more efficiently meet the requirements of the firm,” a firm spokesperson said.

“As a result, we have had a small number of redundancies in Australia. These have been difficult decisions to make, and those individuals were closely supported through the process. They have now left the firm, received their full entitlements, and been offered outplacement services, support, and counselling.”

“The broader economic and market conditions have caused businesses across many industries to make similar adjustments to ours,” the NRF spokesperson continued.

“We are planning ahead by investing in areas of strategic growth and opportunity, and this is why we have made a number of partner appointments this year across projects and construction, regulatory litigation, financial crime, government and corporate M&A.”

Elsewhere, national plaintiff firm Maurice Blackburn has also had to make staffing changes recently across various roles.

According to a firm spokesperson: “Over the pandemic, our workforce increased to ensure clients’ needs were met during an unprecedented time of crisis. Now as we emerge from the COVID years, the firm has restructured its workforce to be similar in size to what it was before the pandemic.”

“Unfortunately, that has required changes to roles and some redundancies,” the MB spokesperson went on.

“Impacted employees have been redeployed where possible, and as one of the few law firms [that] operates under an enterprise agreement, employees who have left the firm received generous redundancy payments. We support hybrid working and to continue to provide exceptional client experiences.”

Finally, Lawyers Weekly understands that BigLaw firm Clayton Utz recently undertook an internal review, which resulted in redundancies both to the firm’s back office and among fee-earners.

Lawyers Weekly reached out to Clayton Utz, asking about the reasons behind these understood redundancies and the plans it has for the new financial year; however, it declined to comment.