Short-term boom but long-term questions loom for lawyers if Scotland votes to go it alone

Michael West finds mixed feelings on independence from Scotland’s bloodied legal profession

It’s long been a hoary cliché to say that uncertainty is good news for the legal profession but it is hard to escape the conclusion that the uncertain prospect of a momentous vote on Scottish independence this month would be very good news for local lawyers… in the short term.

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Scottish firms: Burness Paull awards staff 10% bonus while Shepherd and Wedderburn grows construction team

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Scottish firm Burness Paull is awarding a 10% bonus to all its eligible employees across the firm’s three offices in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow following a strong set of annual results which saw a 20% rise in turnover and a 25% increase in profit.

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Scottish revival: Growth for Brodies, Maclay and Shepherd as Scots independence vote hangs over recovery

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Described last year as both beleaguered and bleak, the Scottish legal market is this year seeing something of a revival as revenue at Maclay Murray & Spens (MMS) – one of the LB 100’s worst performers in 2013 – was last week revealed to have risen by 7% from £40.4m to £43.3m and profit per equity partner (PEP) jump by £50,000 to £261,000, a 24% hike. Continue reading “Scottish revival: Growth for Brodies, Maclay and Shepherd as Scots independence vote hangs over recovery”

Ashurst’s new Glasgow unit ‘part of a continuing trend’

Law firms look outside City to meet client cost expectations

It is a sign of the times that the majority of City partners can’t understand the fuss around Ashurst’s new low-cost base in Scotland.

The top-15 UK firm announced in mid-June that it is to create a 150-strong unit in Glasgow, headed by former Dundas & Wilson partner Michael Polson, which will cover back office support and volume legal work, initially document review in litigation and corporate.

The move echoes earlier initiatives, launched to more fanfare, by Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) (then just Herbert Smith) and Allen & Overy (A&O), which set up volume support operations in Belfast in 2011 and 2012 respectively as a means of lowering client costs.

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Semple Fraser Appoints administrators

Scotland’s Semple Fraser has gone into administration, with Tom MacLennan and Kenny Craig, partners with accountants RSM Tenon, appointed joint administrators.

The move comes less than a week after the firm announced its intention to appoint administrators on 6 March. Although a raft of firms have stepped in to take over parts of Semple Fraser’s business, 62 people at the firm, including lawyers and support staff, have been made redundant.

‘It is with great regret that after having considered every possible option to secure the future of the business it was clear that administration is the only option,’ said Simon Etchells, managing partner of the firm.

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Setting the heather on fire

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Our Management Partner of the Year, Bill Drummond, begins his fifteenth year running Brodies in May. We track his firm’s success amid a turbulent Scots market and ask if Brodies’ rise signals the decline of the country’s traditional elite

Bill Drummond wore his trade mark kilt as he stepped up to be named Management Partner of the Year at the Legal Business Awards in February. The attire was fitting, not because Brodies’ longstanding head is a staunch nationalist, but rather because Drummond has led his firm to startling success on the back of an unashamed focus on his home field.

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Dundas departures reflect pressure on Scots firms

Dundas & Wilson has confirmed the departure of three more partners from the firm’s London arm. Corporate partners Julian Mathews and Simon Sale, along with banking and finance partner Michael Wrigley, have decided to leave the Scots leader, which has faced a difficult few years by any yardstick.

These moves, which were confirmed in February, compound an unsettled time for the firm’s London office. The City practice last year saw Martin Thomas, one of its top litigators, leave for Wragge & Co, along with banking partner John Pike, who quit for Osborne Clarke. More recent senior departures include TMT partner Paul Graham, who left for Field Fisher Waterhouse, while real estate partner Nick Padget left for Osborne Clarke. The latest departures have raised familiar questions about the firm’s London ambitions.

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Latest Dundas departures are reminder of pressure facing Scotland’s most storied firms

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Dundas & Wilson is bracing itself for the departure of three more partners from the firm’s London arm. Corporate partners Julian Matthews and Simon Sale, along with banking and finance partner Michael Wrigley have decided to leave the Scots leader, which has faced a difficult few years by any yardstick.

These moves compound an unsettled time for the firm’s London office, that last year saw Martin Thomas, one of the firm’s top litigators, leave for Wragge & Co, along with banking partner John Pike, who quit for Osborne Clarke. More recent senior departures include TMT partner Paul Graham, who left for Field Fisher Waterhouse, while real estate partner Nick Padget left for Osborne Clarke. Of this month’s departures, it is thought that Wrigley and Matthews will leave immediately, with Sale leaving next month. Familiar questions about the firm’s London ambitions have been raised.

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