Resolving to be the best we possibly can be

Balfour+Manson's new management team (L-R) Alan Gilfillan, Ann Logan and Robert Holland.
Balfour+Manson's new management team (L-R) Alan Gilfillan, Ann Logan and Robert Holland.
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Have you broken your new year resolutions yet – or are you determined that you will at least make it through, alcohol-free, to the end of Dry January? Or perhaps you are equally focused not to be tempted by that delicious cheese in the fridge and complete Veganuary successfully?

Whatever your level of resolve, January is certainly a good time to reflect how we might change the way we approach life, hopefully for the better.

At Balfour+Manson, we have seen a big change in early 2020, which took effect on 1 January – when the three of us took over as the firm’s new management team.

Our colleague Elaine Motion had served as Executive Chairman for five years, combining her leadership role (including delivering year-on-year business growth), with an increasingly high-profile role in the Brexit challenges, culminating in the Supreme Court decision that Boris Johnson had acted unlawfully when he chose to prorogue parliament last autumn.

Elaine will continue as Chairman, representing the firm externally as well as focusing on client work, but she has passed on responsibility for day-to-day management of the firm to us. Balfour+Manson has never been afraid to innovate and the partners considered a variety of structures before deciding a three-strong management team would be the best approach. We were nominated by fellow partners to be the first members of the team and it is intended there will be rotation over time.

The Balfour+Manson Partnership is a very balanced one – 12 women and 11 men, an unusually even gender split for a law firm of our size. However, this is perhaps not surprising when you consider the trailblazing Ethel Houston – the first female partner of any Scottish law firm when she was elevated to the partnership by Balfour+Manson in 1949.

We are keen to continue the great work of our predecessors, by displaying a readiness to adapt to ever-changing circumstances.

The key to success in a modern legal firm is to keep evolving and innovating, while retaining a total focus on what clients want and delivering a consistently first-class service to them.

Between us, we have a wide range of skills and experience. Ann has more than 25 years of experience as a clinical negligence and personal injury solicitor, working with clients in catastrophic and highly complex cases, while Robert is Head of Employment, involved in a number of high-profile cases, involving the ongoing fight for the rights of foster carers, and with two decades of litigation experience behind him. Alan has a commercial law background, advising businesses and charities on matters important to them.

Our appointments have shown again that Balfour+Manson, while totally committed to equality and diversity, is above all else a meritocracy which promotes talented people. Alan is only 34, but the firm has never been afraid to promote young talent; Jamie Foulis was assumed to the partnership aged just 29 at the end of 2017.

As a team, we are raring to go. We know Brexit will throw up challenges, some of which we can predict and some not. We understand that the future of Scotland’s constitution will be the subject of intense debate too. We are ready for these challenges and discussions, and to advise our clients on them. But we also realise that our clients have day-to-day issues far removed from political and constitutional debates – and need our support to move forward in all areas of the law which affect their lives.

As one of Scotland’s oldest independent law firms, Balfour+Manson understands this better than most. We have been around since 1888 and have remained proudly independent while other iconic Scottish legal names have disappeared on a regular basis.

In our 132nd year, we recognise the significance of our heritage, but we also know that we must continue to innovate and adapt.

As a new leadership team, we are committed to doing that – and to providing that consistent, first-class, personal service to all our clients throughout 2020. As New Year resolutions go, it might not be the most exciting, but we’ll follow it through right to the end of the year – and far beyond.

Alan Gilfillan, Robert Holland and Ann Logan took over on 1 January as the new Management Team at Balfour+Manson.