Strong growth reported

Investment in staff brings rewards for legal firms

Chris Harte
Chris Harte
Richard Masters
Richard Masters

Two legal firms have reported strong growth on the back of investment in people.

Scottish independent Morton Fraser said its investment in talent was the foundation for a 9% rise in year-on-year income, topping the £20m threshold for annual billings for the first time in its history (£21.7m). Revenue is up 60% over five years.

International law firm Pinsent Masons, which acquired McGrigor Donald in 2012, saw global turnover increase by 6% to £449.8 million.

Fees billed rose by 10% on the previous year and in the last five years turnover has increased by more than 40% while profit growth has risen by 60%.

Morton Fraser’s performance-related bonus scheme will reward all staff with up to 13% of their annual salary. Profits have also risen by 13% this year. 

Noting that the number of independent Scottish firms is “dwindling”, Chris Harte, chief executive of Morton Fraser, said: “The quality of our team is the one consistent factor underpinning this period of growth for our business.” 

It now has more accredited employment specialists than any other firm in Scotland. Its real estate and corporate teams were active in a number of high profile deals and its banking and finance team won several key panel appointments. 

Among the deals it advised on were Rockspring’s purchase of 9-10 St. Andrew Square, Edinburgh and BAM Properties on its role in Edinburgh’s largest speculative office development at Capital Square.

Pinsent Masons, which employs 540 staff in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, was appointed as global strategic partner to the fintech sector enabler, Fintech Scotland, and as legal mentors to the Oil & Gas Technology Centre’s TechX Pioneer accelerator and incubator programme in Aberdeen.

Notable deal activity by the firm’s corporate and banking teams included advising on the $1.6bn acquisition of Ithaca Energy by Delek Group, Shell’s $3.8bn sale of North Sea assets to Chrysaor, Tullow Oil’s sale of £30m of gas assets to HALO and a £74m funding package for Carraig Gheal wind farm in Argyll.

Pinsent Masons also advised on the only two Scottish flotations which took place in the last quarter of 2017, Springfield Property’s £387 million IPO and the £25.5 million AIM listing of fintech company Beeks Financial Cloud Group.

The results showed that approximately 90% of revenues are now generated from clients operating within the firm’s core global sectors of Advanced Manufacturing & Technology, Financial Services, Infrastructure, Energy and Real Estate and that profit per equity partner increased by 4.4%.

Pinsent Masons managing partner, John Cleland, said: “Our vision is to be recognised as an international market leader in the global sectors in which we specialise.”

Chairman of Scotland and Northern Ireland, Richard Masters, added: “Our involvement in some of the largest corporate transactions, representation at the top levels of strategically important bodies such as Fintech Scotland and the TechX initiative, and the promotion of our next generation of talented lawyers show that our Scottish offices are in robust health.”


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