Murray McCall: Legal stalwart is headed for the future

Employer brand and diversity are issues which successful businesses must keep at the forefront of their strategic planning. Today more than ever, they dominate the board agenda when it comes to the key business objectives of hiring and retaining top talent.

Murray McCall of Anderson Strathern

One of our core strategic objectives is to be the employer of choice in the legal sector in Scotland and we know to achieve this you have to be progressive, do the right thing, apply strong governance and authentic values and, most of all, look after your people. While top-line performance and profitability is never too far from a managing partner’s mind, we have taken great pride in being the first Scottish legal firm to secure double Gold in Investors in Young People and Investors in People. We were a pioneer in the sector by becoming an accredited living wage employer long before it was a legal requirement and were the first law firm to sign the Scottish Government’s Business Pledge.

I firmly believe that if you look after your people, they look after your clients. That then motivates them to go that extra mile in providing the highest standard of legal service. While we are rightly proud to be one of Scotland’s oldest law firms, we constantly strive to evolve and remain fresh in our outlook.

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In another year when the legal sector has been dominated by headlines around mega-mergers, we remain committed to our independence as a Scottish full-service law firm. We believe we will do the best job for our clients by remaining true to our 250-year heritage and valuing our autonomy while seeking out collaborative working relationships with other progressive firms across the UK, in London and internationally.

On the subject of diversity, it is well publicised that gender equality remains an unresolved issue in the legal and business world and although we can say with a reasonable level of confidence that things are improving, progress has been slower than many of us would like. At Anderson Strathern, we have just appointed two women to senior roles, with a female finance director joining from a Big Four accounting firm and a female head of marketing and business development. Also, our most recent partner and board appointments were 50/50.

As a firm, we have already achieved gender equality in our executive management team and our board is now firmly on track to be 50/50 by 2020 in line with the Scottish Government’s pledge. As we continue to shatter a few more glass ceilings, we also see younger people entering our leadership team and this year we established an innovation committee, headed up by one of our young solicitor advocates and made up, quite intentionally, of non-partners and trainees.

We want to be an “office of choice” as well as an “employer of choice”. Mobile and flexible working, particularly for parents and carers, has always been part of our DNA and this has been assisted by significant investment made in remote working facilities and cutting-edge IT kit which allows us to work (to coin an old slogan) anytime, any place, anywhere.

Anderson Strathern was an entrepreneurial firm when it was set up in 1749 to advise the then third Duke of Buccleuch and our entrepreneurial mindset remains, evidenced recently when we launched a new, standalone company – Alba Claims – which is working closely with our legal colleagues to address the tens of millions of pounds of lost commercial claims every year.

Over the next few weeks we will be reporting increased turnover and an uptick in profitability that gives us confidence that we are on the right track as we head into 2018. Most of all, in spite of turbulent times in the market, we remain positive about the outlook for Scotland and for the commercial, public and private client sectors we serve.

Murray McCall is the managing partner of Anderson Strathern