Thorntons Solicitors inks another merger - with fellow historic Scots law firm

Law firm Thorntons Solicitors has announced its latest merger with a peer that also dates back to the 19th century, saying the deal will accelerate its growth in the Central Belt.

Dundee-headquartered Thorntons, whose roots go back to 1857, and Edinburgh-based Stuart & Stuart WS, which can trace its origins back to 1804, are joining forces to create an expanded business totaling 564 people, 71 of whom are partners.

The deal sees Stuart & Stuart’s entire team of 31 transfer to Thorntons. Chris Anderson will transfer as a consultant to the merged firm and John MacKenzie, Fergus Macmillan, Andrew Bertram and Emma Horne will be appointed partners at Thorntons, with Ken Lauder named a legal director.

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Stuart & Stuart senior partner Chris Anderson described the merger, which takes effect on April 1, as “a fantastic move for two firms which share a remarkably similar outlook.”

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He added: “In a career which has seen its fair share of deals, this was one of the simplest and most positive transactions. Both firms have a long and proud pedigree of client service and I have no doubt the newly enlarged firm will continue to forge ahead.”

Thorntons has grown in recent years into one of the country’s largest full-service law firms, with offices also in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth and across Angus and Fife.

Last month it announced its results for the year to the end of May 2021, with turnover increasing to a record £31.2 million, up 1.9 per cent on the previous year, and its strongest-ever financial performance attributing to a strong property market, a surge in Scottish tech deals, and a backlog of court work.

From left: Thorntons' partner and chair Colin Graham, its managing partner Lesley Larg, and Chris Anderson, who will transfer as a consultant to the merged firm. Picture: contributed.

Regarding the latest deal, Thorntons managing partner Lesley Larg emphasised the importance of ensuring its expansion aligns with the values it brings to clients and the communities it serves.

She said: “It is incredibly encouraging, having received many, many approaches over the years, that Stuart & Stuart have chosen Thorntons as a trusted home for their clients and their people. I’m looking forward to welcoming Stuart & Stuart’s people to Thorntons and am excited about the significant benefits arising from this deal.

Focus

"There are many similarities in terms of the services the firms provide, our shared values which drive how we operate for our people and our communities, and our mutual focus on excellent client care.

“Stuart & Stuart is a venerable private client firm in the broadest sense, offering residential conveyancing, estate agency, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, executries and family law. It is central to our strategic plan that we remain a full-service law firm and accelerate our growth in the Central Belt, and therefore Stuart & Stuart is a superb, complementary fit, given its culture, history and commitment to outstanding client service.

“We look forward to providing a wide range of opportunities for the Stuart & Stuart team as we welcome them into the Thorntons family.”

Other mergers in Thorntons’ history include Morisons in 2019, Pagan Osborne in 2017, and Clarkson Hamilton in Kirkcaldy in 2016. The law firm was started by Sir Thomas Thornton, who launched a legal practice in Dundee

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