Diversity makes solid legal position
BEST PERFORMING BUSINESS (26-250 STAFF) WINNER - PAGAN OSBORNE
PAGAN Osborne began the year by launching a new corporate identity which underlined the company's pioneering approach to what it offers and does.
Its shorthand description is that it is a legal firm, but today's Pagan Osborne is a firm of legal, financial and property specialists. It has adopted what it calls a greater partnership approach to its work with clients, providing them with advice at the key milestones throughout their lives.
Managing partner Alistair Morris explains: "We combine legal skills, tax skills, investment skills and property skills. With house prices at the levels they are, just about everyone in Edinburgh has a tax problem and doesn't know it."
He means the likes of capital and inheritance tax, as well as investment, concerns that in the past might have been laid at the door of an accountant or a bank manager. So why not a legal firm? That was the Pagan Osborne point of view and the firm now offers discretionary fund management, independent financial advice and taxation advice, and you can wrap all that around property.
It has by no means been an overnight transition. "We have done this over the last five or so years. It is very expensive to set up discretionary fund management. The amount of regulation is mountainous but we have added more and more strength to our specialisms. So much is associated with buying a house - it is central to what we do," says Morris.
Pagan Osborne has moved towards a legal practice style, which has now been copied by other firms, that provides individuals and families with a complete overview of their personal interests. It now manages, protects and helps develop an individual's assets through legal, financial and property specialisms, covering wills, inheritance, agriculture and estates, strategic financial and tax advice and buying, letting and selling property.
"I am a strong believer in a modern legal profession that embraces change. Our research shows that people want and are ready for a different kind of legal practice. Today's society is time short and looks for efficient services - but it also wants expertise and long-term relationships, " says Morris.
"People are increasingly conscious of the tax pressures and complex family and business matters that impinge on their prosperity and general financial security and I believe we provide the right balance of advice needed across all these matters."
Pagan Osborne was founded in St Andrews 247 years ago and evolution has been a way of life. The company now also has offices in Cupar, Anstruther and Edinburgh. Its move into the Capital followed the acquisition of the private client, agriculture and property division of solicitors Ketchen & Stevens.
It established the first dedicated property centre in Scotland, was the first law firm to create its own independent financial services facility, introducing tax advice and asset management alongside its core legal services.
Its prowess and progress were recognised with its winning of Law Firm of the Year at the inaugural Scottish Legal Awards in 2002-3 and its move forward has continued since then.
Last year, the firm signed a deal with leading Edinburgh commercial property firm Bell & Scott that resulted in the transfer of the Bell & Scott private client team and 1 million of new business to Pagan Osborne. In return, Bell & Scott undertakes commercial property and corporate work for Pagan Osborne clients.
All this was duly noted by the Business Excellence judges, who said: "We were impressed by Pagan Osborne's strategy and felt they were building a sustainable position in their market through clever positioning that was creating barriers to competitive forces.
"We noted the use of strategic partnerships with the likes of Bell & Scott to enhance the company's portfolio."
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