WHEN Alasdair Cummings took over as managing partner of Lindsays in 2011 he had one main priority: to see the firm through the post-recessionary storm.

Looking back on how he sold that vision to the firm’s partners, whose backing he required to take on the top job, he said: “Being absolutely blunt, in the depths of January 2011 a lot of my platform was let’s just batten down the hatches and make sure we are not the next law firm to fall over.”

Though in the years that followed big-name businesses such as Semple Fraser, Tods Murray and McClure Naismith did eventually fail, Mr Cummings believes that Lindsays pulled through because, unlike larger rivals, it had keep private client as part of its practice mix.

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“We’re a broad church so when during the recession banking work stopped and corporate work stopped the private client side of the business was doing very well,” he said. “A lot of other firms shed that part of their business during better times, but it’s absolutely part of our DNA and will continue to be.”

The effect of battening down those hatches is that now, from the comfort of 2019, the firm looks to be in a good place. Turnover has grown from £9 million when Mr Cummings took over to an expected £17m this year and though the firm, which is not a limited liability partnership, does not reveal its profitability, Mr Cummings said that that metric has “increased reasonably well” too.

Much of the growth is down to a series of acquisitions completed between 2012 and 2018, starting with general practice Shield & Kyd - which extended Lindsays’ offering in Edinburgh while also giving it a presence in Dundee - and Edinburgh property and private client firm MacLachlan & MacKenzie.

“They had a bit of bedding in and in 2015 we did our next one in Dundee - with RSB Macdonald - because we were very keen to develop our presence there,” Mr Cummings said.

“That gave us real presence in the Dundee market. We saw opportunities there to go in and do full service work. There aren’t that many largeish legal firms in Dundee and Tayside and we added healthy competition to the local market.”

Next the firm set its sights on building up in Glasgow, which it had originally entered in 2008 via the acquisition of local firm Kidstons, with the hire of Brodies’ personal injury team significantly expanding its west coast presence in 2017.

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“That has worked really well for both of us,” Mr Cummings said.

“Brodies had gone through a strategic review and weren’t seeing that team as being as central to its strategy as it had been, and we had a nice personal injury team that had a good connection with [team head] David Armstrong and the other partners from doing conflict referral work.

“It was a natural conversation to have and it’s worked well for both firms.”

Having last year taken over Edinburgh firm Aitken Nairn, which Mr Cummings said played to Lindsays’ “sweet spot” of property and private client, the focus now is to try to match the revenue growth the bolt-ons have brought with an increase in profitability too.

“We’re reasonably pleased with where we are on profitability but it could be better,” Mr Cummings said.

“We strive to make it better for a number of reasons - for bringing in new talent and being competitive in the marketplace, and being able to properly reward the people we’ve got too.”

Looking to the future Mr Cummings, who intends to seek a further three years as managing partner when his current term comes to an end next year, said further acquisitions will definitely be on the cards for Lindsays.

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“We’ve no plans to get super-big,” he commented.

“Currently we’ve got 38 partners and that will increase with our promotions in April. I could see us as having up to 50 partners and up to £20m of turnover.

“That would be a great legacy and I’d like to achieve that by the time I hang up my gown. There are many cross-winds out there but they don’t fundamentally change the nature of the business and the firm we’ve got.

“From 2011, when I started, if someone had said what do you think you might achieve, I look back with some pride. It’s been a good journey for the firm.”