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Law firm tie-up helping 'create opportunities'

THE chairman of Burness Paull & Williamsons says the law firm is picking up work which it would have been unable to compete for prior to its merger.

SITTING PRETTY: Philip Rodney says there will be consolidation this year. Picture: James Galloway
SITTING PRETTY: Philip Rodney says there will be consolidation this year. Picture: James Galloway

The tie-up between Burness and Paull & Williamsons was formalised on December 1 last year in a move that jumped the mid-tier players towards the top of the Scottish law league table alongside the likes of Brodies, Maclay Murray & Spens, Dundas & Wilson, Shepherd& Wedderburn and Pinsent Masons.

Chairman Philip Rodney says the enlarged firm has seen a lot of "early successes" and confirmed it is on course to hit turnover in excess of £37 million in its first year.

He said: "We have seen the synergies actually happening and been picking up work which neither of the heritage firms could have.

"There is that sense we do sit at the top table now and having the extra resource has been extremely beneficial to us.

"In the first quarter we were a bit ahead of budget and given the distractions of the merger that is amazing."

Mr Rodney highlighted oil and gas, food and drink, financial services, private equity and the public sector as core areas.

However, while the firm remains committed to keeping its operations in Scotland he is hopeful of growing the amount of international work which it picks up.

Mr Rodney said: "That international element is increasingly important. About 25% to 30% of our work has an international element and the interesting thing is a lot more of it is coming to us direct rather than through a London gatekeeper.

"That is because we have a strong Scottish identity and we have no plans to be in any other jurisdiction.

"We have got lots of good friends in London and get lots of referral work. Once you open in London you get seen as a competitor so we have no plans to do that.

"It is about acting for international businesses in Scotland and Scottish firms working internationally. We are actively prospecting work internationally."

Mr Rodney ruled his firm out of any further merger activity but believes there will be "a lot more consolidation" in Scotland during this year.

He said: "I think there will be some mergers where two weak firms huddle together for warmth, there will be some good strategic mergers and some people who just feel an obligation to follow the pack.

"We are looking for opportunities such as lateral hires or teams coming from other firms but we now have a platform that we think is robust."

In 2012, there was the largest number of mergers seen in the Scottish legal market in recent memory with the agreement between McGrigors and Pinsent Masons the largest.

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