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Harper Macleod marks 30th year of business with strong performance in most recent financial year

Leading Scottish law firm Harper Macleod has marked its 30th year in business by announcing record profitability in its most recent financial year – its seventh consecutive year of profit growth.

The firm saw profits pass the £10 million mark for the first time ever, with a 4.2% rise to £10.2m on turnover of £26.5m.

At a time when the legal market within Scotland continues to face significant challenges, the firm – currently acting as Legal Adviser to the Glasgow 2018 European Championships - maintained its strong balance sheet providing it with the ability to make further investments over the coming period.


Harper Macleod Chairman Professor Lorne Crerar and Chief Executive Martin Darroch

The firm's performance also saw it enhance its position as a partner of choice for law firms outwith Scotland requiring advice in the jurisdiction, with a 12% rise in revenue from such work.

Chief Executive Martin Darroch said: "These results show our commitment to a strategy of sanity, not vanity. We constantly work to improve the efficiency and productivity of our business and have quietly reshaped our model over the past few years without compromising our bottom line. After making a number of acquisitions to further our strategic aims, we said the past few years would be a period of consolidation and I'm delighted to say that has been carried out successfully.

"We know that we can provide clients in all sectors with a combination of quality of service and cost that sets us apart from much of our competition, including many of the new brands who have entered our market. To be frank, we can deliver the very best legal advice without charging the exorbitant fees that are often associated with 'prestige' law firms."

"We have shown growth in all our main areas of activity over the past few years, with the exception of insurance sector where after analysing the direction of the UK-wide market we made a strategic decision to lower the proportion of our business that accounts for. It is this type of pro-active planning which has allowed us to thrive."

Since the firm acquired smaller firms Bird Semple (Glasgow, 2014), DSR (Lerwick, 2015) and Allen & Shaw (Inverness, 2016), the value of Harper Macleod's private client and residential property practice has more than doubled and private individuals have become its largest client group.

At the same time it has registered growth in all other key sectors including Public Sector, Energy & Natural Resources, Real Estate & Construction, Banking & Finance and Food & Drink.

Within the public sector, the firm's social housing practice is a market leader, among other activity advising clients on funding deals worth more than £200 million in the past few weeks alone, while the renewable energy practice has completed deals worth more than £300m in 2018 alone.

The firm's Banking & Finance team increased its level of panel appointments and the scale of transactions it carries out with several of the UKs leading banks.

It is also regarded as a leading adviser in the entrepreneurial arena, supporting initiatives including Scottish EDGE and partnering with organisations such as Crowdcube, the UK's leading equity crowdfunding platform.

Other highlights of the firm's past financial year included:

  • 100% retention on all client retenders, with an overall 65% tender success rate. The reappointments and contract extensions included clients such as: Forestry Commission Scotland; DWP; Scottish Government; Allied Irish Bank; Lloyds Banking Group; Historic Environment Scotland; and a number of leading housing associations.
  • Consolidated firm's position as leading advisers on corporate and commercial deals, ranking 4th in the annual legal Dealmakers table (Scottish Business Insider).
  • Harper Macleod's support and referral network for high street and rural law firms, HM Connect, hit 365 members - more than 30% of all law firms in Scotland.
  • Extended relationship with Glasgow Warriors, including naming rights to the Harper Macleod West Stand at Scotstoun Stadium.
  • Saw long-term Athlete Ambassador Sammi Kinghorn become a double World Champion and be named Scotland's Sports Person of the Year.
  • Introduction of a new legal grade structure, leading to 42 promotions in biggest ever promotion round.
  • 25% of people in the business utilising flexible working.

Professor Crerar, Chairman and founder of Harper Macleod, added: "This is yet another exciting year for Harper Macleod and I'm delighted that we have entered it in such a strong position. While in many ways the business is unrecognisable from the one we started 30 years ago, one thing that hasn't changed is our culture – that drive to do things differently has stood us in good stead.

"Ours is a lean, strategically aligned business which is full of people who know their role in delivering the best legal services and that can only be to the benefit of all of our clients."