Retaining a positive outlook in turbulent times - comment

Anderson Strathern entered 2020 on the back of a record year but, like so many others across the business scene, recent months have seen us adjust and mobilise in the face of a health and financial crisis that continues to have a seismic impact on companies and individuals alike.

We have been working hard to support clients in many areas of the law, says McCall. Picture: Jane Barlow.
We have been working hard to support clients in many areas of the law, says McCall. Picture: Jane Barlow.

On the occasion of our recent announcement about the launch of the firm’s business resilience unit, our chair Bruce Farquhar put things in perspective when he said: “Covid-19 is a human crisis and so businesses need to respond on a human level with customers and their own people alike.”

The team draws together specialist lawyers from across the firm and is led by Neil Amner, a director at Anderson Strathern who is also a member of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce’s business advisory group. He said: “The Covid-19 pandemic is challenging businesses to an extent we have never seen before.”

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The unit is supported by an online business hub, a Covid-19 company checklist, webinars and a podcast series. In our first podcast I interviewed leading Scottish business figure and entrepreneur Marie Macklin. What came out of the interview was a sense of optimism that if we can collaborate in Scotland with a more ethical purpose in mind, we can come out of the crisis in a position of strength.

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Anderson Strathern unveils dedicated business resilience unit
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In the spirit of collaboration, we recently announced that we will be the only law firm and the first Gold Partner in Macklin’s Halo Innovation and Enterprise Centre being established next year in our hometown of Kilmarnock.

With business leaders striving to gain stabilisation with a view to building from that base, we are experiencing high levels of activity in areas like hospitality and leisure, universities and colleges, commercial property, transport, infrastructure, rural affairs and private client work.

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In a similar way to the 2016 Brexit referendum shock, we realised we needed to adapt our approach to supporting clients as the pandemic took hold. The crisis touches every part of our economy and we have been working hard to support clients in many areas of the law – commercial contracts and property, restructuring, public sector challenges, and employment law to name a few.

Wellbeing

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On the back of our merger with specialist Glasgow-based law practice Hardy Macphail last October, we now work with more Scottish small and medium-sized enterprises than ever. As we move through the various phases of recovery from lockdown, we know firms need to combine the wellbeing of their employees with pressing issues including health and safety, data and information security, disputes and litigation and many more.

The work dynamic has shifted dramatically these last few months and the pre-Covid-19 workplace may never look the same again. Digitisation has enabled remote working and the “work from anywhere” mantras from tech giants like Twitter. While productivity remains inherently important to all businesses, we also realise that this cannot come at the cost of our health and wellbeing.

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In 2019 we were selected as the first Scottish legal firm to join the Meritas global network that numbers 180 law firms in more than 90 countries worldwide. The ability to share knowledge, experience and best practice with international peers has been extremely valuable since the pandemic struck.

While we adhere to rules set out in Scotland and the UK, we also think it’s important to learn from experiences in other territories. Anderson Strathern is a steadfastly independent Scottish legal firm but that does not preclude us from having a global outlook. Going back to Macklin’s comments about how we can collectively come through this crisis, as a firm we too hold on to a level of optimism about the future.

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We retain a positive mindset despite the challenges and see many opportunities for our clients and our people as we emerge from this unprecedented period in our history.

Murray McCall, managing partner, Anderson Strathern

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