With the merger between its former Scottish arm and Addleshaw Goddard due to go live on 1 June, Gateley is looking at options for a new Scottish tie-up and has approached a number of firms in the market.
According to one Scottish partner, Anderson Strathern, which has offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and East Lothian, would be the most likely option for a tie-up.
‘Anderson Strathern has some good clients, some good lawyers. It just hasn’t been on track for a long time and it has been looking to do something for a while as well.’
MacRoberts and Morton Fraser, who were previously in merger discussions together, are also understood to have been approached by Gateley, as was Harper Macleod.
‘MacRoberts would be a good move for Gateley, but it has pension issues and I don’t know how serious that would be,’ added the partner. ‘Morton Fraser wouldn’t be a fit either. It doesn’t want to tie up with anyone.’
Legal Business revealed in January that Morton Fraser and MacRoberts had called off their merger talks as a deal was ‘financially unworkable’. Chris Harte, chief executive of Morton Fraser, said the firm will not be merging in the near future, ruling out any imminent combination. ‘We have been clear about how we see our future. We will continue that way until someone causes us to rethink that direction. We aren’t there at the moment.’
Speaking to Legal Business, Gateley chief executive Michael Ward would neither confirm nor deny that the firm had approached Anderson Strathern, MacRoberts, Morton Fraser or Harper Macleod, but added that Gateley is looking for a firm that it can work with on client assignments on a preferred arrangement.
‘It is our stated preference to have a new collaboration agreement in place when the other one expires on 31 May, but we are certainly not close to that at the moment. You would describe our relationship with HBJ as more than a best-friend relationship. We are not negative about the arrangement we had with HBJ. It made a decision. That’s business and that’s life. We are looking for a similar arrangement with another party.’