Brodies brushes aside Brexit blues with further growth

Brodies, the Scottish legal heavyweight, has played down Brexit concerns to report its eighth consecutive year of growth.

Managing partner Nick Scott - 'plenty of opportunities'. Picture: Contributed

Releasing its headline financial results today, the Edinburgh-headquartered firm said its services were in “strong demand” across all practice areas.

Revenues grew to just under £68.6 million in the year to the end of April, from £66.7m in 2016/17. Profits before partner distributions lifted 3.5 per cent, or £1.1m, to almost £32.9m.

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On a like-for-like basis, after stripping out the disposal of the personal injury business in the previous financial year, the firm has seen revenues rise by 6.2 per cent.

Brodies ranks as Scotland’s largest indigenous legal business with 97 partners, following five partner promotions and one lateral hire. Overall headcount has leapt from 567 to 645. The firm also opened its first office in the Highlands, with the addition of Dingwall to its existing locations of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Brussels.

Managing partner Nick Scott, who recently took over from long-standing boss Bill Drummond, said he was pleased with the performance given the “fair bit of noise” going on in the background.

“As we move forward in our new strategic cycle to 30 April 2021, we do so against a backdrop of continued political and economic uncertainty,” noted Scott.

“While we await the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, in our own business we take heart from the resilience of our clients and the new opportunities they create.

“We have seen the evidence of that already in our new financial year, with our services in strong demand right across our business.”

He said the firm had continued to invest in people, highlighting the 23 newly qualified lawyers beginning this month.

“I am pretty certain that this is the largest cohort of newly qualifieds of any Scottish law firm and is a statement of intent,” Scott added.

In recent years, the profession has seen a host of familiar names disappear, be it through merger, acquisition or, in some cases, failure.

Brodies’ managing partner said consolidation had certainly been a theme with “some more of that” likely.

However, he added: “It is not our job to comment on other law firms. For us, we see plenty of opportunities for growth and we are not reaching critical mass on the strategic plans that we have.”

Deal highlights during the year included advising the shareholders of Barrhead Travel Group on its acquisition by US industry giant Travel Leaders Group, advising Craig Group on the sale of North Star Shipping and working with Abellio on its bid for the East Midlands’ rail franchise.

Margin for the year was 34.6 per cent, “demonstrating the firm’s commitment to sustainable, profitable growth”. Cash balances at year-end were £19.6m, up from £18.24m.