80 jobs saved at collapsed law firm McClure Naismith

About 80 Scottish legal jobs are to be saved after the administrators of the collapsed Glasgow-based law firm McClure Naismith revealed that they had struck deals with a clutch of rival firms to take on staff.

McClure Naismith fell into administration on Friday
McClure Naismith fell into administration on Friday
McClure Naismith fell into administration on Friday

Administrators at insolvency practice FRP Advisory said the rescued jobs were tied to transferred work in progress at the 189-year-old law firm that had hit financial problems.

Five partners at McClure Naismith are going to Harper Macleod, five to Maclay Murray & Spens (MMS), three to Burness Paull, and one each to Morton Fraser and HBJ Gateley.

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Burness Paull said three property lawyers – Steve Scott, Bob Binning and Colin Brown – were joining its property division, headed by Tamar Tammes.

Tammes said: “Coming only days after Burness Paull’s annual figures show the property team had worked on deals running into several billions in value, this coup underlines our firm’s strategy of continuing to invest and build for the future.

“Standing still is not an option within the Burness Paull culture.”

Burness Paull chairman Philip Rodney added: “We have had Steve and his team in our sights for some time. We are delighted to have recruited them and are excited by the synergies this will bring.

“On the back of a very successful year, the recruitment of this team kick-starts our dynamic growth strategy.”

Robin Shannan, former executive chairman of McClure Naismith, is joining MMS alongside four other partners – Wilson Aitken, Morag Campbell, Frank Johnstone and Philip Sewell – and about 30 staff.

In 2013, MMS hired seven partners from Semple Fraser, following that firm’s announcement that it had entered administration.

MMS chief executive Kenneth Shand said: “The opportunity to hire a talented and committed group of individuals such as this is rare.

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“Those joining us will augment our existing teams, enabling us to further extend our client reach and capabilities. It reinforces our development of the firm through a multi-faceted approach, both nurturing internal talent and bringing in lateral hires.”

Meanwhile, Harper Macleod said it had attracted litigation lawyers John McHugh, E-Ming Fong and Suzanne McGarrigle, along with real estate specialist Philip Sim and Scott Kerr in its corporate team.

Chairman Lorne Crerar said: “The Scottish legal profession has endured seismic change over recent years and the role of the management team here at Harper Macleod has been to ensure that such change is an opportunity to build and sustain our business as a leading supplier of legal services in Scotland.

“I am in no doubt that the cycle of change has not yet completed and a balanced mixture of organic and acquisitive growth will be the key to our strategy for future success.”

In addition, about 40 other staff have been offered employment by these and other law firms in Scotland with whom the joint administrators, Tom MacLennan and Iain Fraser, have been in talks.

A further seven partners are in advanced talks with other legal firms over their and their staff’s moves, while four current and future trainees at McClure Naismith have been offered contracts. The administrators said that they were also retaining 14 staff of the firm.

MacLennan said: “We are pleased to have negotiated agreements facilitating employment with a wide range of firms and wish them and their new staff every success.”

The administrators said it was with “great regret” that the remaining 42 partners and staff at McClure Naismith had had to be made redundant. Founded in 1826, the practice had offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London.