Scottish Law Firm Expands With New Hires

Scottish law firm Harper MacLeod is reversing the bad news coming out of many law firms in the UK and elsewhere by expanding its workforce with the employment of anywhere from 15 to 20 new lawyers in the coming months.

Further, the hires could be lateral as well with several at either partner or associate level as the firm celebrates a year when some major deals were concluded.  The entrepreneurial firm will will finish with around 300 lawyers and with offices in three of Scotland’s biggest cities, Glasgow, Inverness and Edinburgh.

The SunHerald reports:  Chief executive Martin Darroch hopes many of the hires will be at partner and associate level and indicated the firm’s three main offices – Glasgow, Inverness and Edinburgh – will all have new people coming in.

The corporate practice has revealed it acted on deals to the value of £450 million across 2012 and has started 2013 by advising on the £77m sale of call centre giant HEROtsc to French-based Webhelp.

Mr Darroch said that, along with corporate, the firm is seeing growth potential across sectors including restructuring and insolvency, banking, private client, energy, public sector, litigation and real estate.

He said: “Whether it is 15 or 20, the principle of what we are doing is to further meet prospective client demand.

“We continue to see huge opportunity across most legal disciplines and most sectors.

“This ranges from partner to solicitor, but it is more at the associate and partner level we are looking for people in every single area.

“But it is not about eclipsing our existing people.

“In January we had seven assistants promoted to associate and three associates to partner.

“This is us ensuring we have the capacity to meet our future growth ambitions.”

The firm has increased its head count from 230 in 2008 to just short of 300 at the moment.

However, Mr Darroch has ruled out Harper Macleod looking for a merger partner and has rejected three approaches since September last year. He said: “We are not looking to grow by acquisition of a firm.

“Most of the firms around carry far too much baggage, whether it is pension deficits, long-term lease obligations or huge debt exposure both on and off the balance sheet.

“That is why we are after talent. The number of fee earners [we want to add] is probably the equivalent of a small to medium sized firm.”

Recent market changes have included English firms merging with smaller Scottish operations plus a large player like DLA Piper closing its Glasgow office.

Mr Darroch said this had led to an increase in referral work from London firms.

He said: “It is not just because of the mergers but because of our change in ranking or status.

“We are now at 52 partners and are advising high growth businesses and on high value transactions.

Read more about Scotland and UK law firms on LawFuel as we report on developments in the UK law profession.

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