Burness Paull profits drop 8% but income rises for tenth consecutive year

Burness Paull chair Peter Lawson said uncertainty had 'a tangible impact' on the oil and gas and commercial property markets. Picture: contributed
Burness Paull chair Peter Lawson said uncertainty had 'a tangible impact' on the oil and gas and commercial property markets. Picture: contributed
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Scottish legal heavyweight Burness Paull LLP is celebrating ten years of continuous turnover growth, despite a dip in annual earnings due to economic and political uncertainty.

The commercial law firm has reported a 2 per cent rise in income to £58.5 million for the year to 31 July, marking a decade of rising revenues.

It pointed to recent investments in new “talent” and technology as delivering “sustainable expansion”.

However, profits for the year dropped 8 per cent to £22m, with the firm recording a flat performance in the first six months of its financial year thanks to

Brexit uncertainty and the oil price recovery delaying investment decisions among clients.

It attributed the second half improvements to businesses adjusting to “uncertainty being the new norm” and an uptick in North Sea activity, which encouraged transactions.

Burness Paull hailed significant investments in tech innovations, including its adoption of a full cloud computing strategy designed to increase data security, improve resilience and provide a digital infrastructure that can be rapidly expanded to meet client needs.

It has also implemented document automation processes driven by artificial intelligence.

The firm scored a series of high-profile client wins and instructions throughout the financial year, including securing work for blue-chip technology group and Skyscanner owner C-Trip and representing author JK Rowling in civil litigation following the dismissal of her former personal assistant. It also advised on the House of Fraser administration.

Chair Peter Lawson said: “Economic and political uncertainty had a tangible impact on two of our biggest markets, namely oil and gas and commercial property.

“The fact that our corporate team had a record year, particularly in tech and international markets, and topped the Scottish legal deals table for the fourth consecutive year, is evidence that clients were bullishly responding to changes in their markets by investing.”

Lawson said he was bullish about the outlook for this year, adding: “Current activity levels are encouraging, and with our strategic investments in people and tech over the past 12 months we are confident about stronger growth in the year ahead.”

The firm employs more than 540 people, including 73 partners, across its key locations of Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow.