TODS Murray, the mid-tier Scottish law firm, said it is returning to growth after suffering a sharp fall in profit and fee income caused by the downturn in activity.
The slump in corporate work left the firm nursing a 26 per cent fall in profit to £2.3 million for the year to the end of March against £3.1m in the previous 12 months. Fee income was down from £13m to £11.8m.
Executive partner David Dunsire conceded that the firm had shared the difficulties of the wider economy, but said performance had picked up in the rest of the year.
“Our results were as expected, reflecting both a slow market and a year of investment for the firm. It would appear that 2011 was a false dawn and our 2012 results have mirrored the rest of the Scottish corporate scene,” he said.
“However, there does appear to be some glimmer of growth around the corner and we expect to bounce back to 2011 levels this year, with signs of turnover already up 12 per cent on the current year.”
He said the acquisition of Fyfe Ireland last January was having a positive impact on the business and he would not rule out other acquisitions.
“We are not currently involved in merger talks. We made a significant investment in acquiring Fyfe Ireland last year and are very happy with the outcomes – most of which will not be evident until our 2013 results,” he said. “If another similar opportunity came along, the door is very much open.”
The private client team has been strengthened and there are five more solicitors. The banking and finance team has seen a 55 per cent rise in turnover following a healthy flow of referrals from the City and overseas.
But in a statement on the results, the company said: “Real estate transactions in Scotland remain well down generally as a result of reduced borrowing opportunities and a continuing lack of confidence in the property market in Scotland.”
In June it secured Lexcel – the legal quality mark – to make Tods Murray the first solely Scotland-based law firm to hold the international standard.
Tods Murray has offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow and has 33 partners among 180 staff. During the year, 18 left, though there were no redundancies, and there were 32 new starts, half from Fyfe Ireland. The real estate team has been cut through natural wastage and turnover is down. However, the firm said it is confident that measures taken would improve its performance.
Dunsire added: “We can see recovery in London already. However, Scotland is traditionally slower to recover.
“We have taken steps over several years to restructure and build a lean and effective practice which leaves us well placed, I believe, to emerge from this recession stronger and fitter as we have done with others during our 150 year history.”