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Law firm profits static

Burness Paull steady in ‘bumpy’ year

Philip Rodney

Philip Rodney: ‘opportunities for those who embrace the future’

Scottish law firm Burness Paull reported near-static figures over the last financial year during which it was the country’s most active dealmaker.

Profit slipped marginally from £22.5 million to £22m on a 1% rise in turnover from £53.3m to £53.8m.

Commenting on the results for the year to 31 July, chairman Philip Rodney said: “We have delivered a steady financial performance in what has been a bumpy year for the Scottish economy.

“There will undoubtedly be more challenges to come as a result of the political and economic backdrop. However there will be opportunities for those who are prepared to be bold and embrace the future.”

The firm has seen an increase in instructions across most sectors and was named the most active dealmaker in Scotland for the second consecutive year. It has a three-year strategy aimed at delivering growth across its Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow offices, as well as developing its international initiatives.

Mr Rodney said that the firm is set to deliver significant growth in the next three years.

“The speed of change has never been greater. Our strategy builds on the successful platform that we have created.

“Growth will come from our agility in developing our service lines to support the changing needs of our clients both here and internationally.  In particular, we anticipate increased activity in energy, technology and tax.

“In planning for that, we have invested heavily in people and technology. This will enable us to develop our resource and provide operational efficiencies.”

In the last 12 months the firm has added eight partners. Lateral hires include Nicky Clemence (right), previously with Brodies, as partner in property and Jody Crockett joined as partner in dispute resolution from London-based magic circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Internal promotions saw new partners in pensions, retail, procurement, banking & funds and product liability. Also among the internal promotions, Lindsay Wallace becomes Burness Paull’s first general counsel.

“Our recent promotions demonstrate the depth of talent that is being nurtured through our leadership development programme and our ability to attract top talent from other firms,” added Mr Rodney.

Building on previous technology investments the firm has implemented a cloud strategy to provide a modern IT environment delivering greater scalability, security and enhanced business continuity.

In addition, agile working pilots are under way across the firm. 

“Scotland continues to produce exciting, dynamic businesses. It is increasingly attractive for  inward investment –  more so than any region out with London,” said Mr Rodney.

“This year, for example, we have had instructions from new clients in the US, China, Norway and Israel. In addition, a substantial part of our practice is in acting for clients who are doing business beyond our boundaries.

“Closer to home, we are seeing real substance behind the creativity and technical innovation across the central belt and there are positive signs out of Aberdeen as the oil and gas sector adapts to the ‘new normal’.

“The geo-political backdrop and the impact of the technological push over the next three years will generate enormous changes in the way business is conducted. Analysing the problems and the opportunities will be one thing. But creating solutions will be another. That is an exciting setting for us to build the firm.”

Work highlights demonstrate Corporate Scotland’s resilience in the current political and economic climate. An upturn in inward investment into Scotland has been a feature of this activity.

Activity highlights include:

Advising a Canadian syndicate and two separate US corporates on inward investment transactions.

Advising Scottish-based Renegade Spirits on the development of Waterford Distillery in Ireland, and, with input from Irish counsel, on a £16M fundraise from Business Growth Fund and Ulster Bank.

Acting for the Scottish Loan Fund on its exit from its investment in Vermilion Holdings as part of the sale of Vermilion to Factset Europe

Advising Maven Capital on its investment in Qikserve

Acting on the $163m sale of Sterling Resources (UK) Ltd to Dutch company Oranje-Nassau Energie

Advising BayWa r.e. UK on the expansion of its onshore wind portfolio in the UK with the strategic acquisition of a 20MW wind farm in the North of Scotland


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