HISTORY and tradition are important in the legal world: they signal stability, experience and a reputation forged over generations. But to prosper in the dynamic, global world of the 21st century, practitioners also need a for ward-looking, imaginative outlook.

The legal firm Holmes Mackillop has long understood this. Its heritage stretches back to 1783, when it first opened an office in Johnstone, Renfrewshire, and it has also had a presence in Glasgow since 1920.

While other Scottish legal practices have consolidated, been taken over or simply disappeared in recent years, Holmes McKillop has continued as an independent business, quietly growing and building longterm relationships with its clients.

In its latest round of expansion, the business has taken on two new staff to increase its corporate team to four.

The firm regards itself as well-positioned in terms of size, being big enough to provide a full range of services and expertise, while compact enough to offer a truly personal experience for clients. “We’re very much a commercial company, though we provide a very broad range of services,” says Stuart McNeill, the Head of Corporate and Managing Director in Glasgow. “We range from commercial property through to private property, litigation, employment and private client work. Acting for big companies, for instance, clients will come to us and say that they or a relative wish to buy a flat or perhaps a relative’s estate requires to be wound up. We are able to provide these additional services. We may have the structure of a commercial firm, but all of our teams stand on their own two feet.”

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There are also particular competencies in areas including agriculture - serviced particularly from the Johnstone office - renewables, charities, litigation and dispute resolution . Other areas include employment law, wills and estates and buying and selling residential properties. “We’re also involved in healthcare and at present we’re extremely busy with pharmacy sales and purchases - we do a large number of those,” says Stuart. “In addition, we’ve done a lot with dentists, doctors and vets as well as forming charities and converting trusts etc. to SCIO’s. And Johnstone Office reaches throughout Renfrewshire and down into Ayrshire with a very strong farming clientele. Though we have the two offices, we’re very much one entity and work as one team.”

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Staff at Holmes Mackillop drive this approach, working to forge a strong personal relationship with clients. “Those who bring us their business will pick up on the ethos of a legal firm - who they are dealing with, the level of expertise and the credibility,” says Ralph Riddiough, one of the new appointments and a Director of the company. “I’ve been doing this job for a good number of years now and I think after that length of time, you’ve seen most things several times. That means you can really present a value proposition to the market that clients feel comfortable with. “I’ve come to this firm rather than going to a bigger one because I want to be the master of my own destiny and at the front of the service we provide. I don’t want to head up a huge team with clients finding themselves cascading through the ranks.” He adds: “It actually matters what it feels like to work in a firm.

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Professional fulfilment is important to staff and clients pick up on that. They detect the ethos and the experience in the advice they get.”

Another advantage of a mid-sized and independent legal practice is that its overheads will be lower than those of bigger companies, many of which maintain glitzy rented offices. “We own our properties, and that helps us to be very competitive,” says Stuart McNeil. “We also know our way around the Scottish corporate landscape, people recognise our offering and we have a good team.” Stuart attributes the firm’s longevity and success over generations to a total focus on quality of service, backed up with genuine expertise. “That’s the beginning, middle and end of what we do.

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“We are here to represent the best interests of our clients and give the best advice we can. We are confident in our ability to do that. After all, we have been around for a long time.”

Holmes Mackillop takes pride in its record of growth and the fact that this has been steady and sustainable rather than spectacular. “It’s been a prudent business, a manageable business, and it’s a good place to work. We’re confident in the advice we give to our clients and they keep coming back.”

This business model, and the referrals and repeat business it has fostered, has helped the firm steer its way through the recession of 2008 and beyond. “Businesses still need to transact, and they still need quality advice,’ adds Ralph. “We’ve been able to provide that as their needs evolve. We haven’t been caught out because we focused too heavily on one area,” adds Stuart. “Our priority is to respond to the needs of our clients, to understand them and to continue to provide excellent advice. “We remain totally committed to taking on trainee solicitors - that’s a professional obligation we take very seriously. We look after and retain our staff and that means we have a good, sustainable business. That’s why we’re busy and we’re growing.”

For more information please visit www.holmesmackillop.co.uk