Law firm goes into administration

Thorntons and Blackadders acquire Morisons assets

Johnston Clark

Johnston Clark of Blackadders:  ‘deal gives us stronger presence’ 


Scottish law firm Morisons went into administration last night and certain assets, goodwill and work-in-progress were immediately acquired by Thorntons and Blackadders.

The deals, which are for an undisclosed sum, see eight Morisons partners and 41 staff transferring to Thorntons, while three partners and 30 staff transfer to Blackadders.  A further three partners are moving to Gilson Gray in Edinburgh, Weightmans in Glasgow and one undisclosed firm where negotiations are ongoing. There are no immediate redundancies.

Tom MacLennan and Iain Fraser, partners with FRP Advisory, were appointed joint administrators of the long-established firm which had expanded in recent years through acquisitions and organic growth, and by investing in new offices, technology and recruitment.

Following the transactions, Thorntons and Blackadders will next week begin a redundancy consultation period with some former Morisons staff whilst simultaneously undertaking a review of their staff structures and requirements.  It is hoped that about 45 staff positions will be saved as a result of the deals.

Commenting on the acquisitions, Mr MacLennan, said: “We are pleased that Thorntons and Blackadders have agreed deals to acquire certain assets, goodwill and work-in-progress of Morisons, thus ensuring continuity of client service, preserving employment and safeguarding client service.  We wish the newly enlarged businesses every success.” 

Craig Nicol, managing partner at Thorntons, said: “Thorntons has made a number of recent investments in our Edinburgh team and client offering, including a move to new, larger offices at Citypoint.  Morisons was a long-standing, highly respected firm with a high profile in the Central Belt, and this acquisition will further strengthen our position in the Edinburgh market.

‘”Our priority will be to provide a seamless transition for clients to ensure they continue to receive an excellent service, and to integrate those Partners and employees moving across into our Edinburgh team.”  

Johnston Clark, managing partner at Blackadders, added: “This acquisition underpins Blackadders’ investment in our people and our business and will position us for continued, strategic growth.  Blackadders has a clear commitment to client service and an established plan for further growth across the firm.

“This includes a track record for successfully integrating other firms with our business. We will now have a stronger presence in the Central Belt which will enhance the strength and depth of resource available to all our clients. Our focus will now be on providing continuity of service to clients as we welcome them to Blackadders.”

Lorna Jack, chief executive of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “We are very sad to hear that Morisons has gone into administration. It represents the loss of a highly regarded Scottish law firm operating in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

“The joint administrators at FRP Advisory LLP are finalising transactions which will see the transfer of the Glasgow business to Blackadders, the Edinburgh business to Thorntons and three individual partners moving to other firms in Edinburgh and Glasgow.  We are confident that arrangements are being put in place to ensure that there is as little disruption as possible for the firm’s clients.

“There has been ongoing, significant change within the legal services sector which, combined with a challenging economic environment, continues to have an impact on law firms.

“We understand that 71 members of staff, including all trainee solicitors, will be transferred. We will work with the firms to help ensure a smooth transfer of and provide advice and support for our members. Morisons’ clients should continue to contact their solicitor about any ongoing business or transactions.”


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