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Law businesses are defying tough trading conditions

TWO Scottish law firms have defied tough trading conditions by posting rises in turnover and profit.

Anderson Strathern, which employs 300 staff and has 53 partners, booked a 7.7% increase in turnover to £22.8 million, while pre-tax profits edged up from £7.18m to £7.3m in the 12 months to the end of August, 2012.

The firm – with offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Haddington, East Lothian – said it was the third consecutive year in which it had seen growth.

Practice areas that performed well included real estate and intellectual property.

The firm also secured a number of public-sector contracts, with client wins including the Scottish Prison Service, General Teaching Council for Scotland, Scottish Children's Reporter Administration, Our Dynamic Earth and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport.

It also outlined that profits would have been even stronger but for one-off costs related to its moving office in Glasgow.

Managing partner Andy Lothian, who has just been re-elected for a second three-year term as head of the firm, said: "I am delighted that we have achieved a third consecutive year of growth in both revenue and net profit.

"It is really healthy to see this come from a mix of organic growth and new hires."

Separately, accounts filed at Companies House show Thorntons Law – with offices across Dundee, Perth, Arbroath, Forfar and Edinburgh – saw income grow from £12.9m to £13.2m.

In the 12 months to May 31, 2012, profit before partner remuneration and profit sharing grew 16% from £2.2m to £2.6m.

Craig Nicol, Thorntons joint managing partner along with Scott Milne, said: "Our financial results for the past year are extremely positive and encouraging.

"Following our appointment, Scott and I were keen to devise a business plan that would help develop the business in certain key areas, and the figures demonstrate that we are on the right track."

The accounts show Thorntons – which has 29 partners among its 264 staff – moved from a net debt of £287,594 to a net cash position of £316,761 at the end of the financial year.

Mr Nicol said: "These results are enabling us to invest in key areas, particularly our teams in investment services, intellectual property, IT and media, private client, personal injury and agriculture."

Along with its traditional legal services offering, Mr Nicol said he was planning to grow the independent financial advisory and wealth management arms.

He said the fund management business is looking to "grow significantly" the £220m to £230m of funds it already has under its wing.

Mr Nicol is planning for organic growth but refused to rule out mergers.

He added: "It has been very interesting to watch what is going on in the sector.

"We are looking at growing in those areas which we have identified as key and we are ever alive to opportunities in the market place."

According to the accounts, the profit share of the highest paid partner increased from £107,538 to £125,799.

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