Legal Business Blogs

Firms divide up McClure Naismith as Scottish stalwart goes into administration

Scottish firms have started dividing up partners and staff at McClure Naismith after the nearly 200-year old firm appointed partners from FRP Advisory as joint administrators on Friday (28 August), though some staff have been made redundant.

Among those to pick up partners from the now defunct firm include Maclay Murray & Spens (MMS), Harper Macleod, Burness Paull and Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie.

Harper Macleod took on an eight-strong litigation team including partners John McHugh, E-Ming Fong and Suzanne McGarrigle while partners Philip Sim joins in real estate and Scott Kerr in corporate. The firm said the additions would hopefully boost turnover, which last year stood at £22m, by 6%.

Meanwhile, MMS took on five McClure Naismith partners and around 30 staff in London and Glasgow. Corporate partners Morag Campbell and Robin Shannan join in Glasgow alongside property specialist Wilson Aitken and consumer finance partner Frank Johnstone, while in London the firm recruited litigator Philip Sewell.

Burness Paull added three property partners to its team, Steve Scott, Bob Binning and Colin Brown, as it looked to win work from clients including Papa Johns and investment manager LaSalle. HBJ Gateley hired banking partner John Blackwood while commercial property partner Stewart King and head of corporate Colin Millar are moving to Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie alongside a private client associate and an assistant.

Thomas Campbell MacLennan and Alexander Iain Fraser of FRP Advisory were appointed as administrators for the firm which was founded in 1826 on Friday. In total 80 members of staff have found places at other firms, however 42 staff, including partners have been made redundant.

Last week Legal Business revealed that City firm Marriott Harrison was looking to take on McClure’s London corporate team as the firm looked for a white knight merger.

Commenting on the administration chief executive of the Law Society of Scotland, Lorna Jack, said: ‘McClure Naismith is one of Scotland’s oldest firms and has been a proud part of the Scottish legal profession for almost 200 years. We are sorry to see it go into administration but understand this was the only viable option given the challenges faced by the business.

‘Whilst today’s announcement is regrettable, our own research shows increased optimism within the legal profession as well as a more buoyant legal market. That said, the profession is undergoing phenomenal change with digitalisation and technology, changing expectations from clients and new entrants to the market all requiring firms to adapt and innovate in the way they do business. It underlines the need for firms to be flexible and to modernise in what is a highly competitive market.’