By Kristy Dorsey

The historic Simpson & Marwick name will be at the forefront of expansion plans to create a new multi-disciplinary “powerhouse” in the Scottish legal sector.

Acquired in October by Aberdeins, Simpson & Marwick was previously part of global law firm Clyde & Co. Its litigation practice merged with that of Clyde & Co, but the Simpson & Marwick name was retained in relation to the property business.

Rob Aberdein, who set up the professional services group last year, said the acquisition of Simpson & Marwick has prompted a rethink on strategy going forward.

“Our plan was and remains to grow by acquiring high-quality but under-invested legal practices across multiple disciplines,” he said. “Simpson & Marwick was most definitely an exception to that.

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“Under our original business plan, many such practices may well have retained their names. Now they will become part of Simpson & Marwick.”

Chairman Richard Loudon, who joined Simpson & Marwick as an apprentice in 1979, said the firm will retain its position in the Edinburgh and East Lothian property market while also rebuilding “as a powerhouse across a host of legal services”.

In addition to these changes, Mr Aberdein said the group will also shed his name, and will now be known as Moray Group.

“At launch we needed a name and Aberdeins was fine,” he explained. “However, I believe something less personal to me makes greater business sense for the long term.

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“It is exactly the right time for these kinds of name changes, while we are still a new player and are still building recognition. Now our main focus is most definitely on growing the Simpson & Marwick brand without potential distractions.”

Simpson & Marwick is one of Scotland’s oldest legal names, tracing its roots back to 1886. Its heritage includes a leading role in the Piper Alpha enquiry and representing Pan Am airline in Scotland on issues following the Lockerbie bombing.

The firm joined Clyde & Co in 2015 before last year’s “amicable” demerger allowed the 26-strong team to join Aberdeins.

They have since been joined by Malcolm Cannon, a former head of ESPC, who came to Simpson & Marwick from his latest role as head of the Institute of Directors. In his new role as managing director of property services, Mr Cannon will ensure the firm continues to compete with upmarket estate agents on its home turf while also increasing its reach across Scotland.

HeraldScotland: Malcolm CannonMalcolm Cannon

Meanwhile, Mr Aberdein will drive forward further acquisitions, with several deals already said to be in the pipeline. Where those firms offer legal services, they will be folded into Simpson & Marwick.

While its core will be legal services, the group will also create and acquire businesses in other areas such as estate agency, property letting, accountancy and financial services.

Mr Louden added: “Once again, a generation of Scots will associate the Simpson & Marwick name with the full spectrum of legal services required by private clients and family businesses. We are incredibly excited about the potential this offers Simpson & Marwick to again be in the premier division of Scottish law firms.”