JACQUELINE Law could not have taken over as managing partner of Aberdein Considine at a worse time.

Having succeeded firm founder Harvey Aberdein in 2014, she took the reins just as the oil price, which had been riding high in the months leading up to her appointment, began its descent to its lowest-ever level.

“I took over in November 2014 just as the recession hit in oil and gas,” Ms Law recalled. “In the June of that year we’d had the luxury of oil being at $114 a barrel and just a year later it was down in the thirties.”

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The impact on the local economy in the firm’s home town of Aberdeen has been devastating, with thousands of jobs lost and every single sector in the city and surrounding area – where Aberdein Considine is well known for its estate agency - being hit.

As luck would have it, though, the firm had already started expanding south “when Aberdeen was at the height of the market”, opening in Glasgow and Edinburgh in 2013 before later acquiring firms in Stirling, Glasgow and Newcastle to further extend its footprint.

Although she admitted that Aberdein Considine did not make the moves because it foresaw what was going to happen in the north east, Ms Law said the strategy has helped insulate the firm from the worst of the oil and gas downturn.

“We went into Glasgow with a property office in Shawlands in 2013,” Ms Law said.

“We did that because we thought our property services and financial services offerings were easily transferable.

“Aberdeen was booming at that time and we saw it as a good opportunity to try to get into Glasgow when it was just starting to come out of the banking recession.

“I’m very happy we started it when we did because we might not have been quite so bold if we were making those decisions in 2014 and 2015. We see huge opportunity in the south.”

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Seizing that opportunity has helped the firm grow its revenues by 20 per cent from £20 million in 2015 to almost £24m now.

At the same time the firm - which had become known largely for its property arm despite starting life as a legal practice – has been able to rebalance its business.

Following the expansion both legal and estate agency contribute 40% of total revenues with financial services making up the final 20%.

“We started with a property shop and legal office in 1981 but what we really got known for and where the growth happened quickest was in the property sector,” Ms Law said.

“But I’m a corporate lawyer and I’m very proud of the focus we now have in legal services.”

While much of the firm’s legal work comes via its estate agency, on the corporate side it focuses mainly on work for small and medium sized enterprises, which has grown out of the market for oil services business in the Aberdeen area.

“In my line of work my clients were oil and gas SMEs, those that focus on things like supply vessels, lifeboats for the oil industry, specialist tools – every spin off you can imagine fell to me,” Ms Law said.

“SMEs still want a personalised service and they want it partner led. We have a very joined-up approach so they may be a corporate client doing an acquisition but we can also advise them on moving to new premises or the director might be moving house or getting divorced.”

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With the Aberdeen market starting to pick up, Ms Law feels the firm has weathered the downturn well although she said she is keeping a close watch for any other “threats and changes” that could impact on the business.

One area in particular the firm is keen to respond to is the rise of online estate agencies, with Aberdein Considine recently introducing an online booking service for valuations and viewings.

“There’s an understanding by us that while people still want a personal service a lot of people want to deal with their estate agent in a digital manner,” Ms Law said.

“With the biggest asset you own, someone who knows the market is far more valuable than someone who will just do a listing for you, but we need to compete with online agents by giving options and flexibility.”

Longer term, the firm is awaiting the outcome of the Scottish Government’s legal sector review in the hope it can finally reward senior estate agency staff with partnership.