EY Law set to cut 24 UK legal roles as demand weakens

Latest round of job cuts follows Big Four giant’s decision to close EY Riverview Law
London, UK - May 12, 2022: Building in More London street of one of the headquarters of Ernst and Young in London. EY is one of the most famous consultancies worldwide.

Sergio Rojo; Shutterstock

EY has launched a second round of legal cuts in the UK in recent weeks with a redundancy consultation affecting 24 employees.

The move follows the accountancy giant’s decision, revealed by the Financial Times in December, to close its Manchester-based low cost legal services arm, EY Riverview Law, at the reported loss of 55 jobs.

An EY spokesperson said of the most recent cuts: “EY regularly reviews the resourcing needs of the business. We can confirm that 24 employees from EY’s UK Financial Services Legal Advisory Services business are subject to a redundancy consultation process. 

“We will always seek to redeploy our people to other parts of the business where possible. EY Law employs 3,500 people globally, with more than 290 people supporting the UK market.”

None of the employees affected by EY’s latest redundancy consultation are understood to be trainees.

In all, EY cut around 300 UK roles last year, according to the FT, as it grappled with rising costs and weakening demand. The firm has also had to contend with the impact of its decision last April to scrap its plan to separate its global advisory and auditing businesses, a move that had held the prospect of delivering its legal arm a major boost.

All the Big Four accountancy firms have long-held and often-expressed ambitions to grow their UK legal businesses. At the time, EY’s acquisition of managed legal services business Riverview Law in 2018 was regarded as a major statement of its ambitions for the UK market. 

In January 2022, Philip Goodstone, EY Law’s UK and Ireland head, told Law.com it wanted to treble in size in the next three years. At the time Law.com reported that its UK arm employed 200 lawyers.

EY is not alone in cutting legal roles in the UK amid challenging market conditions, with law firms including CMS and Trowers and Hamlins having also trimmed their ranks.

Cuts in the US, however, have been more widespread, particularly among firms that expanded rapidly to cater for the tech-fuelled M&A boom that ground to a halt in the second half of 2022 and is yet to revive. 

Cooley, Orrick, Goodwin Procter, Dechert, Shearman & Sterling, Davis Wright Tremaine and Reed Smith are among the firms to have cut their lawyer ranks since December 2022, when Cooley said it was laying off 150 employees in the US including 78 attorneys.

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