25 Nov 2020

Dentons sparks redundancy consultation with launch of virtual real estate team

Up to 24 UK office-based roles under review; firm says it hopes actual job losses will be 'significantly' fewer

Christine Dodd; Shutterstock

Dentons’ UK arm is creating a virtual team of real estate fee earners in a process that has put 24 office-based roles at risk of redundancy.

The move is part of an ongoing shift towards remote working sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Dentons, which says it is hopeful actual job losses will be ‘significantly reduced’ by affected fee earners filling newly created virtual roles.

Also underway is a review of Dentons’ UK, Ireland and Middle East business services and secretarial teams as part of what it is dubbing a “transformation journey”.

The new virtual property team will provide corporate real estate, real estate finance, asset management and due diligence services, working alongside physically based teams. Roles in London, Milton Keynes and Glasgow are being reviewed.

The initiative follows the firm’s decision in July to close its Watford and Aberdeen offices with its occupants moving to remote working. UKIME managing director Lisa Sewell said it reflected “a desire to accelerate our transformation journey” given that “many of the trends that are transforming the legal industry have accelerated during the pandemic”.

However, UKIME CEO Jeremy Cohen acknowledged that proposals “focussed on the need to build a sustainable long-term business, may regrettably impact the lives of some of our colleagues and cause uncertainty”. He added: “We are very focussed on supporting all potentially impacted colleagues throughout this process, and our priority now is to work towards providing them with clarity and removing any uncertainty as soon as possible.”

The firm is conducting a similar review of its energy, transport and infrastructure and non-contentious construction practices and says it is exploring “opportunities for creating a small number of virtual roles and for re-locating other roles to Scotland”.

The outcomes of the business services and secretarial team reviews, meanwhile, are expected in early 2021. 

“Our transformation journey encompasses both how we deliver our legal services to clients, and how we enable that through our business services teams,” said Sewell. “This review is about responding to client pricing pressures by operating more efficient end-to-end business services, simplifying the client journey from first call right through to the conclusion of each matter.”

The firm has also unveiled the related Project Apollo  – an internal initiative to invite volunteers from across its offices ‘to help shape its strategic vision of building the law firm of the future'.

On Monday, TLT hired a 22-strong financial services disputes, investigations, mortgage enforcement and lending services group from Dentons. It had been based at its Watford office.