UNLIKE most other law firms, four-partner Glasgow outfit Dallas McMillan is not obsessed with its provenance, so much so that, while the firm can trace its roots back more than 140 years to 1875, nobody is very sure who Mr Dallas and Mr McMillan were.

“There are no records going back that far,” David McElroy, a litigation partner who has been with the firm for 18 years, admitted.

It takes a different attitude to thinking about its future, though, with senior partner Forbes Leslie noting that Dallas McMillan is firmly focused on where it wants to go as a business.

“After 2009 we were quite cautious about how to expand and the principal way we have done it is by expanding our client base,” he said.

“We’re now in the situation where that’s substantial and we need other people to come in to service that; I think I’ve worked harder in the last two years than I have done in my entire life. That’s not a complaint, it’s a good situation to be in.”

Though the firm, which is not a limited liability partnership, does not reveal its financials, Mr Leslie said the increase in workload has led to a sustained increase in turnover, with the figure expected to be up by around 25 per cent in the current financial year.

This, Mr McElroy said, has given Dallas McMillan room to prepare for further growth, with “the plan generally” being to “expand through the recruitment of more fee-earners”.

While Mr McElroy cautioned that the firm “won’t go crazy and run before we can walk”, both he and Mr Leslie said that it is likely that the firm could pair up with a similarly sized practice in order to achieve its aim.

“We’ve had chats with larger firms that have approached us and we’ve even talked about possible structures,” Mr Leslie said. “But when we analyse the finer aspects, we have four partners and it can take us 10 minutes to make a decision [whereas] there’s quite a rigid structure in a lot of the larger firms.

“We’ve been concerned that we’d lose our independence. Even when we’ve thought about being taken over – because it would have been a take-over – one or two of our main clients said they want us and this firm, they don’t want us to be subsumed into a larger organisation.

“After bigger firms came to us, though, I thought maybe we should be looking the other way, and we have an open mind.”

As things stand Dallas McMillan is focused on a handful of key specialisms, with Mr Leslie leading its work for private estates while litigators Mr McElroy, who has a strong relationship with the trade union Accord, and Gordon Bell, who is the relationship partner for Unite, focus largely on personal injury work. Terence Docherty, meanwhile, leads the firm’s private client practice.

For Mr McElroy, while Dallas McMillan does not “have a need to merge or be taken over”, being able to diversity that practice mix would be of benefit to the firm.

“We would look to smaller or similarly sized firms with either complementary services or other services we don’t provide,” he said.

Some of that diversification could come from within, with the firm already carving out a niche for itself acting for members of the Polish community after a chance instruction led it to take on Polish-speaking claims assistant Marta Matusiak 11 years ago.

“A Polish community magazine initially contacted us to see if we could provide assistance and since then we’ve built up a close relationship with the Polish community,” Mr McElroy said, adding that most of the work the firm does for Polish clients is personal injury related.

“A lot of the Polish people who came here initially worked in heavy industry, such as the fishing industry, so a lot of the injuries can be quite serious, with some cases going to the Court of Session,” he said.

Ultimately, while the firm is looking at a number of possible ways in which to expand, Mr Leslie believes it is the ideas that its own people bring to the table that will help it differentiate itself from the crowd.

“We have a marketing meeting very two weeks that is for fee-earners to tell us what ideas they have on what we should be doing,” Mr Leslie said. “That brings a different dimension - we might think we have good ideas but we’ve been doing this for a while so we need some new input.”