HARPER Macleod has underlined an opportunity it sees for growth amid the continuing consolidation of the Scottish legal market, as new accounts showed a marginal drop in profits in its most recent financial year.

The Glasgow-based firm, which also has offices in Edinburgh, Inverness, Elin, Thurso, and Shetland, reported a profit before members’ remuneration and profit shares of £11.95 million for the ended March 31, 2023, down slightly on the £12.8m for the previous period. Turnover increased to £33.05m from £31.4m.

The accounts were filed at the conclusion of a year which has seen further, significant consolidation on the Scottish legal scene. In September, Morton Fraser and MacRoberts joined forces to become one of the “big four” independent Scottish law firms by revenue, alongside Brodies, Burness Paull, and Shepherd & Wedderburn.

That deal was quickly followed by Scottish law firm Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie linking up with larger English counterpart Irwin Mitchell.

Writing in the review of the accounts, Lorne Crerar, chairman of Harper Macleod, said: “We have met and, in many cases, exceeded our strategic aims for the year. We believe our brand and the general well-being of the business has never been stronger as we look to the opportunities and challenges which will lie in the years ahead.

“As with previous financial years the market for legal services in Scotland continues to present the business with a series of interesting challenges. We continue to relentlessly focus upon delivery of high-quality legal services and in a cost-effective way for our expanding client base.

“We are supporters of the proposals for reform of legal services regulation which would put us on an equal footing with non-Scottish domiciled law firms operating in our jurisdiction. Our well-balanced and varied service lines will help us face the challenges of emerging economic headwinds.”

Mulling the outlook, Mr Crerar went on: “It follows that despite the risks and uncertainties of the short and medium term, we believe as the market continues to consolidate, we see opportunity to be a very different legal service offering in Scotland leading to positive outcomes for our stakeholders.

“We have established a very strong brand in Scotland that resonates our culture, and we look to continue to grow and sustain that brand through our innovative way of working and relentless focus on service delivery.”

The accounts show that the firm employed an average of 315 staff over the period, including 177 lawyers and fee earners, compared with 297 and 167 respectively the year before. Staff costs increased to £12.7m from £11.9m.