An expansion-hungry Scottish law firm is swimming against the prevailing flow of cross-border deals in the legal sector with the acquisition of an established practice in Newcastle.
Aberdein Considine – which has grown out of the north-east into five cities across Scotland – has acquired Wallers Solicitors in a bid to service customers with requirements in multiple UK jurisdictions. Trading under the Aberdein Considine brand, the combined business will have 380 staff and an annual turnover of more than £22 million.
The acquisition is being accompanied by the firm’s first senior appointment in England, former HL Interactive chief executive Matt Wightman. An experienced debt and asset recovery specialist – a key area for Aberdein Considine – Wightman will spearhead the new English and Welsh operation.
Rob Aberdein, partner in charge of lender services, said the deal allows the firm to offer clients the convenience and security of using one firm across all of mainland Britain. This has been one of the primary drivers of consolidation in the legal sector, though the vast majority of deals have seen Scottish firms taken over or merged with English peers, with names such as McGrigors, Dundas & Wilson and HBM Sayers subsumed in recent years.
“We already act for some of the UK’s biggest lenders and this deal brings our customer, compliance and regulatory-focused debt and asset recovery and conveyancing services into the English and Welsh legal markets for the first time,” Aberdein said.
“Wallers, which was previously part of Hay & Kilner, has a track record of providing a great service to its loyal clients. The same dedicated staff will continue to offer that same great service under the banner of Aberdein Considine.”
The firm was established in 1981 by Aberdeen lawyers Harvey Aberdein and Iain Considine. Their aim was to put lawyers on the high street in a bid to shake up the “stuffy” legal market.
It has done a string of deals in recent years, including the 2014 acquisition of Stirling’s Muirhead Buchanan. Earlier this year, it paid what was believed to be a seven-figure sum for A&S Ireland, giving Aberdein Considine additional Glasgow offices in Newton Mearns and the city centre’s Byres Road and Waterloo Street.
The firm has been under the joint leadership of managing partner Jacqueline Law and senior partner Bob Fraser since 2014.