Scots legal big-hitter Harper Macleod hails record year

Glasgow-headquartered legal heavyweight Harper Macleod has hailed its eighth consecutive year of profit growth – but warned that the profession in Scotland “is in danger of losing its identity”.

The firm's chairman Professor Lorne Crerar CBE and chief executive Martin Darroch. Picture: Contributed

The business, one of the largest professional partnerships in Scotland, has unveiled a 9.5 per cent rise in turnover to £29 million and an 8 per cent jump in profits to £11m.

It is also finalising its takeover of Elgin firm Wink & Mackenzie, which has helped give it “a unique pan-Scottish footprint”. The deal was announced in June, and the acquired firm was expected to add a seven-figure sum to Harper Macleod’s overall turnover as well as help boost its presence in the Highlands and Islands.

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Harper Macleod also said its dispute resolution specialists have advised on high-profile cases, including representing MPs in the action that saw the Court of Justice of the European Union rule that the UK could unilaterally revoke Brexit, and acting for FanDuel founders in a multi-million-dollar shareholder dispute.

The law firm’s chief executive Martin Darroch said the results show that its long-term strategy is bearing fruit. “We’ve seen evidence of the pressures affecting some of our competitors in the Scottish legal marketplace – but uncertainty is nothing new, whether it is caused by Brexit or other factors outwith our control. Rather than be distracted by these issues, we’ve always taken advantage of the opportunities that this uncertainty can create for a business such as ours.”

He also flagged increased market share in sectors such as the public sector, energy, real estate and construction, banking and finance, technology, healthcare, food and drink and private client – and investing in, say, technology.

Harper Macleod, recently named legal advisers to British Athletics, said it was also re-appointed to all six lots on the Scottish Government Legal Framework – maintaining a 100 per cent retention rate on all tendered clients in the past financial year – and hired to act for three-quarters of Scotland’s local authorities.

Darroch added: “Demand for commercial legal services is holding up, but there is definitely a move towards clients receiving their supply of commercial law advice from a smaller group of firms.”

He added that Harper Macleod is distinct from rivals “who on one hand look to charge fees not reflective of the Scottish market, or on the other do not have the scale to meet all of a client’s requirements”.

Chairman Lorne Crerar said this has been one of the firm’s busiest and most successful years. “I take particular pleasure from our continued growth in the north of Scotland. I am also proud of our position as a leading independent law firm in a Scottish legal profession which I believe is in danger of losing its identity. Our industry relies on having thriving, Scottish headquartered firms leading the way.”