Staff at top tier Scots legal firm bag 5% pandemic bonus

Staff at Scottish legal heavyweight Shepherd and Wedderburn have each been rewarded with a 5 per cent bonus after the practice returned to profit growth despite the pandemic.

Shepherd and Wedderburn managing partner Andrew Blain said staff deserved a reward for their resilience during a challenging year. Picture: Mike Wilkinson

The payout came on top of the firm’s performance-related bonus scheme after profits before partner distributions rise 13 per cent to £25.3 million in the year to April 30. The previous year had seen profits dip by 1.7 per cent.

Turnover rose 4.1 per cent to £59.3m following what was described as a strong performance across all divisions, including corporate finance where its team advised on £7.1 billion of deals last year which was 18 per cent higher than the previous year.

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The firm did not reveal its profit per partner figure.

Managing partner Andrew Blain said the staff bonuses were in recognition of the “resilience, adaptability and commitment shown” by staff during “this most challenging of years”.

“Last year’s performance provides a strong base from which to deliver our growth strategy for the next three years, which will see us continue to invest in our people and in technology to ensure we continue to deliver high quality and innovative services,” he said.

The practice, which dates back to 1768 and employs 469 partners and staff across offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, London and Dublin, said client activity had been particularly strong in areas including clean energy and technology.

Its banking team also saw the value of deals handled almost double in the year.

The firm said highlights during the past year included acting for Scottish technology firm IndigoVision in its takeover by Motorola Solutions and acting for the Scottish Professional Football League in successfully defending a £10m claim made by Hearts following the decision to end the season early due to the pandemic.

It also advised on a range of clean energy projects including the proposed Moray West wind farm.

During the year the practice acquired a 20-strong Scottish private client team from Dentons, creating one of Scotland’s largest private wealth and tax practices and continued growth at its “Smarter Working” unit, which helps clients streamline processes and help manage the legal costs of large scale projects.

Recent assignments for the unit include the implementation of a case management, automation and reporting platform for Virgin Money.

Earlier this month Brodies, the largest law firm headquartered in Scotland, revealed staff had shared a bonus pot of more £1m after it saw revenue and profits edge up as clients sought help to navigate the pandemic.

Profit per equity partner was pegged at just under £680,000, the same as last year, after the firm said it took a decision for staff to benefit from a recovery in activity levels seen during the year.

All employees at the firm, which has seen staff numbers rise to 784 in recent weeks, received £1,500 under the bonus payout but equity partners were not included.

The practice saw revenue edge up by £500,000 to £82.5m in the year to 30 April, with operating profit increasing by a similar amount to £39m.

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