The worsening economic climate has hit local law firm Thring Townsend Lee and Pembertons, which is to close its offices in Marlborough and Cirencester and relocate its staff to the Swindon office.

The company has almost 400 staff across the West Country. It also has offices in Bristol and Bath.

White collar workers have been affected equally as badly as those in manufacturing and the commercial pressures for most businesses and individuals have been the same.

The legal profession has already seen redundancies in some of the country’s largest law firms and Thring has announced that it has begun a consultation period for up to 20 redundancies, at all levels.

Managing partner Thomas Sheppard said: “Along with most businesses the legal sector is not immune to this recession.

“We have been tracking the impact of the banking crisis on both ourselves and our clients through 2008 and there is no early end to the downturn in sight.

“We expect this to be a difficult year for many of our clients and we need to keep the firm in good shape during what may be a prolonged recession.

“This consultation process has been carefully planned.

“We have a low staff turnover and to make redundancies is not something we have undertaken lightly.

“Sadly, this is the only option to protect the majority of our 380 staff and to keep the firm in good shape for life after the recession.”

As part of the consultation period the firm has invited suggestions from staff members to try and soften the blow.

This could be job sharing or part-time working.

“It has not been an easy decision,” said another member of staff. But the company will do all it can to lessen the blow and if staff members come up with ideas to make things easier then these ideas will be taken on board.”

Thring Townsend Lee and Pembertons has for several years followed a strategy of developing away from the commoditised services encouraged by the Legal Services Act 2007.

It has positioned itself as a specialist practice in the private client, agriculture and commercial sectors.

So far, that strategy has proved to be a wise choice; the firm has grown considerably in both size and reputation over the last three years.