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Crerar warns of ‘identity loss’ as Harper Macleod hits record

Lorne Crerar 2

Lorne Crerar: ‘proud of our position’

Scottish law firm Harper Macleod has announced record results this year, as chairman Lorne Crerar warns of the indigenous legal sector losing its identity.

The Glasgow-based firm reported a 9.5% rise in turnover to £29 million and an 8% rise in profits to £11m.

The figures for the financial year 2018/19, which represent eight consecutive years of profit growth, come as the firm prepares to complete its takeover of Elgin firm Wink & Mackenzie, the latest in a series of strategic acquisitions which have given Harper Macleod a pan-Scottish footprint.

Chairman Professor Lorne Crerar, who was appointed a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, said: “There’s no doubt that this has been one of the busiest and most successful year’s in the firm’s history. I take particular pleasure from our continued growth in the north of Scotland, where we have had a permanent presence now for 15 years.”

Professor Crerar, who was the only representative from a commercial law firm on the panel which supported Esther Roberton’s Independent Review of Legal Services in Scotland and supports the introduction of a single regulatory body for the profession, added: “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.”

He made no reference to other firms but his comments were clearly directed at mergers which have seen long-established names such as Dundas & Wilson and Maclay Murray & Spens disappear through mergers with firms from outwith Scotland.

“Our industry relies on having thriving, Scottish headquartered firms leading the way to ensure that the future of Scots law and the profession here is secure,” he said.

Martin Darroch, chief executive of Harper Macleod, said: “This year’s results once again show that we are a firm that knows exactly who and what we are and that our long-term strategy is paying off.

“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.

“We’ve grown our market share in key sectors, including the Public Sector, Energy, Real Estate & Construction, Banking & Finance, Technology, Healthcare, Food & Drink and Private Client. At the same time we’ve continued to expand and invest in talent – new and existing – geographic acquisitions and technology all while delivering growth year-on-year.

“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.”

Harper Macleod has also been re-appointed to all six lots on the Scottish Government Legal Framework – maintaining a remarkable 100% retention rate on all tendered clients during the past financial year.

The firm’s dispute resolution specialists have advised on a number of high profile cases, including representing MPs in the action that saw the CJEU rule that the UK could unilaterally revoke Brexit, and acting for the founders of FanDuel in a multi-million shareholder dispute.



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