Axiom Ince feared on brink of closure as fate of trainees and support staff uncertain

Ince & Co website unavailable and most phone lines down, while City of London Law Society says it will support impacted trainees
London at sunset

Former Axiom Ince partners say they expect the firm to close Shutterstock

UK law firm Axiom Ince appears to be on the verge of collapse, with departing partners reportedly telling clients the firm was closing, but with business support staff and trainees seemingly left stranded.  

GLP understands that the fate of hundreds of business support staff at the firm is unknown and that many of the firm’s trainees feel they have been left in the lurch. 

Reuters reported the firm had said in a statement on Wednesday (27 September) that directors were working with staff to help them find new employment, adding that the firm’s board had worked closely with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and external advisors to navigate the “countless issues” arising in recent weeks.

However, a report on Roll on Friday today suggests that many of those affected do not wholly share that perception, with trainees voicing their concerns.

The phone lines appear to be down at all but one of Axiom Ince’s seven offices, with an employee in its Walthamstow office telling GLP the firm was “not taking calls”. The firm has no connection to US legal services provider Axiom Law.

The website of Ince & Co, which was bought out of administration by Axiom DWFM in April, with the latter subsequently changing its name to Axiom Ince – is now unavailable. However, Axiom’s website remains operational.

With the fate of trainees uncertain, the Law Society, which is the representative body that supports trainees in these circumstances, repeated an earlier statement: “We offer our support to the cohort of trainees and future trainee solicitors at Ince who are facing uncertainty at the announcement of the firm falling into administration.

“If appropriate, these future lawyers should have the opportunity to transfer training contracts elsewhere to become fully qualified.”

It added: “Our career clinic also offers a free one-to-one 40-minute consultation with a legal career coach, and we encourage all trainees seeking further support to contact us.”

Writing on LinkedIn, City of London Law Society president Colin Passmore said there was “a gap in how the profession deals with people, such as trainees, when a law firm collapses”.

While rare, he noted, “it doesn’t make it any easier for those who are left behind when it happens”. He promised that the CLLS would look at how it could engage with relevant bodies, such as regulators and law schools, to see if this gap can be addressed.

Passmore confirmed that the CLLS had mobilised City firms “who have generously helped a good number of Axiom Ince trainees: the numbers and details are, of course, confidential”, saying that further expressions of interest had been received from possible entities who may be willing to help, and he was happy to listen to further such offers.

At least one trainee, however, has successfully transferred their training contract, with Larna Marsh joining Collyer Bristow. She arrives as part of a six-lawyer real estate and construction team from Axiom Ince, including four partners and led by Ian Chappell, formerly head of real estate at Ince.

Separately, Totum Partners, a specialist recruitment agency for law firm business professionals, said: “We know there will be many [Axiom Ince] professionals concerned for their futures and wondering where to turn next,” with managing director Tim Skipper telling employees to get in touch.

Finally, the UK’s Metropolitan Police has confirmed it was launching an investigation following a SRA referral. An SRA spokesperson confirmed the regulator had been “liaising with relevant law enforcement authorities concerning this case”.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson confirmed to GLP it had opened an investigation into the firm.

“Detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command have launched an investigation, and enquiries are ongoing. No arrests have been made,” the spokesperson said.

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