CORPORATE boutique Dickson Minto has retained its crown as Scotland’s highest-paying law firm, according to figures due to be released tomorrow.
Profit per equity partner (PEP) at the publicity-shy Edinburgh-based practice may have been flat at £1.06 million, but that still left the firm head-and-shoulders above its rivals north of the Border.
Brodies was second in the rankings, with PEP up 8 per cent to £432,000, while Burness Paull took third with £343,000.
Shepherd & Wedderburn’s (S&W’s) PEP dipped by 5 per cent to £251,000, while Maclay Murray & Spen’s (MMS’s) figure plunged by 22 per cent to £211,000 and Dundas & Wilson’s (D&W’s) haul dropped by 19 per cent to £164,000.
Alex Novarese, editor-in-chief at Legal Business magazine, which compiled the data, said: “The past 12 months have been a turbulent time for law firms, marked most notably by the collapse of Cobbetts – ranked in 62nd place in our tables last year – and frenzied merger activity.
“Headline growth hides increased competition from global giants and a sector that is overstaffed.”
The past year has also seen Glasgow-based Semple Fraser fall into the hands of administrators.
Legal Business described the situation north of the Border as “Scotland the grave”, claiming the “beleaguered” market was still feeling the effects of the collapse of the banks during the 2008 financial crisis and a “failed experiment” by some practices to push into London.
Stephen Gibb, chief executive at S&W, told the magazine: “It’s fair to say the impact of the recession on the big Scottish banks hit some of the bigger Scottish firms harder in the market than others.
“We didn’t have that level of exposure to those banks. A proportion of dealmakers who used to be based in the Scottish market have moved south but deals are still being done and we are fortunate enough to still be a part of those deals.”
Philip Rodney, chairman of Burness Paull, added: “Two distinct models have evolved: firms that are servicing the London market such as Dundas & Wilson and Maclays; and firms such as Brodies and Burness Paull that have concentrated on Scotland. Over the past year, the latter strategy seems to have worked better.” Turnover at Turcan Connell dipped to leave it outside the Legal Business top 100 UK firms by revenues, but figures from The Lawyer magazine showed the firm’s PEP fell by 17 per cent to £317,000.
Pinsent Masons, which merged last year with Glasgow-based McGrigors, dipped by 3 per cent to £387,000, while Kennedys – which on Friday said it will merge with Edinburgh-based Simpson & Marwick – rose by 1 per cent to £407,000.
DWF, which merged with Glasgow-based Biggart Baillie, returned a PEP of £433,000, and DAC Beachcroft, which hooked up with Glasgow’s Andersons, grew its haul by 10 per cent to £283,000.
Slaughter & May posted the highest PEP for the UK as a whole, with its high-fliers taking home an average of £2.55m. Overall, total revenues at the UK’s 100 largest firms grew by 8 per cent in 2012-13 to £19.1 billion, with combined profits also up by 8 per cent to £5.8bn.