Burness Paull sees ‘opportunities’ as turnover jumps

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The new chairman of Burness Paull has pointed to “opportunities for those who are prepared to be bold and adapt” as the Scottish legal heavyweight overcame challenging conditions to secure a ninth consecutive year of growth.

The firm said today that it was on track to meet the targets set out in its “ambitious” three-year growth plan after reporting annual turnover of £57.6 million for the year to 31 July, an increase of 7 per cent on the previous 12 months.

Total profit came in at £23.8m – up 8 per cent from the £22m booked in 2016/17. As a result, all eligible employees will receive a bonus equivalent to 5 per cent of pay.

Peter Lawson, who recently took over as chairman from his long-serving predecessor Philip Rodney, said: “We have delivered an excellent financial performance in what has been a choppy year for the Scottish economy.

“There will undoubtedly be more challenges to come as a result of the uncertain political and economic backdrop. However, there will also be opportunities for those who are prepared to be bold and adapt.”

The firm, which has more than 500 staff making it one of the biggest players in Scotland, has a three-year strategy aimed at delivering growth across its Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow offices, while working with clients from Scotland, the UK and internationally.

It said it had seen an increase in instructions across most sectors in the last 12 months, with energy, technology and international business the key drivers.

Lawson said: “Scotland continues to produce exciting, dynamic businesses. Our international clients also tell us it is a cracking place to do business and is increasingly attractive for inward investment – more so than any region outwith London.

“Our future-facing global strategy involves a constant flow of focused trade missions. Every week we have boots on the ground in our key territories of US, China, Norway, Canada, India, Germany and Israel, which gives us genuine intimacy with those markets.”

The firm saw its headcount grow by about 5 per cent over the past 12 months, with 23 additional members of staff taking the overall number of employees to 505 – of which 317 are lawyers.

Lawson added: “The speed of change in the legal sector has never been greater. Growth will come from our agility in developing our service lines to support the changing needs of our clients both here and internationally.

“In particular, we anticipate further increased activity in energy, technology and international business.”

An increase in private equity and capital markets activity, driven by a more stable oil price and “strong investment propositions”, saw the firm’s corporate finance team involved in a significant proportion of the recent Scottish initial public offering (IPO) and merger and acquisition (M&A) deals.