Top West Midlands law firm Challinors has gone into administration with the loss of dozens of jobs.
Offices in Wolverhampton, West Bromwich and Halesowen closed yesterday, with only the Birmingham head office remaining open as the operation is wound down. The longstanding legal practice employed 200 across seven offices.
However, the exact number of redundancies is yet to be confirmed.
Administrators said a tightening of financial regulations in the legal industry, as well as the reduction in government funding for legal aid, had left the company with debts of about £11.4 million. It originally filed notice of intention to appoint an administrator last month and now insolvency practitioners RSM Tenon have taken over.
Joint administrator Andrew Hosking said that books of business had been sold to established Birmingham-based law firms Shoosmiths and Clarke Wilmott.
“A number of staff have joined those two firms,” he said, adding that a small number of Challinors staff had been retained to assist with the run-off of the business.
He said it was possible that the Halesowen office, Hyefield House in Hagley Road, might be sold to another local firm, but it was unlikely that buyers for the other offices, including Queen Street, Wolverhampton, and Cronehills Linkway, West Bromwich, would be found.
“Sadly a number of staff have been made redundant,” he added.
The company’s personal injury work has already been sold to Liverpool firm SGI Legal for an undisclosed sum.
Mr Hosking added: “Challinors, like other firms in the legal profession, has faced a tightening of financial regulations.
“In the economic downturn, they have also faced a situation where their revenues have been capped or reduced in areas like legal aid.”
Challinors, which has 12 partners, owes money to about 250 creditors including almost £500,000 to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs.
Two ex-clients are also taking legal action against Challinors’ partners, alleging that they are owed a total of £650,000 in loans they made to the firm’s partnership.
Challinors was set up as Challinor & Roberts in 1948, then merged with West Bromwich firm Lyon Clark in 1996 to form Challinors Lyon Clark.
They later acquired Halesowen firm White & Billingham in 2009.