Burness Paull posts strong performance

Peter Lawson

Independent commercial law firm Burness Paull LLP has reported a strong performance in its financial year ending 31 July 2018 - securing a ninth year of consecutive growth - posting an annual turnover of £57.6 million - up 7 per cent from £53.8 per cent the previous year.

Profit is £23.8 million - up 8 per cent from £22 million on 2016/17 - and as a result all eligible employees will receive a bonus of 5 per cent, the firm said as it stressed it is on track to meet the targets set out in its ambitious three-year growth plan.

Chairman Peter Lawson said: “We have delivered an excellent financial performance in what has been a choppy year for the Scottish economy. There will undoubtedly be more challenges to come as a result of the uncertain political and economic backdrop. However, there will also be opportunities for those who are prepared to be bold and adapt.”

The firm, which was named the most active dealmaker in Scotland for the third consecutive year, has a three-year strategy aimed at delivering growth across its Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow offices, working with clients across Scotland, the UK and internationally. Over the past 12 months the firm has seen an increase in instructions across most sectors, with energy, technology and international business the key drivers.

Mr Lawson continued: “Scotland continues to produce exciting, dynamic businesses. Our international clients also tell us it is a cracking place to do business and is increasingly attractive for inward investment – more so than any region outwith London. Our future-facing global strategy involves a constant flow of focused trade missions. Every week we have boots on the ground in our key territories of US, China, Norway, Canada, India, Germany and Israel, which gives us genuine intimacy with those markets.

“These excellent results support our strategy of combining in-market focus with global reach. Clients want to work with market-leading specialists, who are regularly transacting across the jurisdictions they operate in, to form cutting-edge partnerships. That’s our sweet spot.”

The success of the firm’s international drive has been underlined by the growing number of mandates from outside the UK. A significant contributor has been the firm’s recent appointment as the sole Scottish representative in Lex Mundi, the world’s leading network of independent law firms, which has helped the firm win a 30 per cent increase in international instructions over the past year.

In response to the increase in new business headcount at the firm grew by almost 5 per cent over the past 12 months, with 23 new members of staff taking the overall number of employees to 505 - of which 317 are lawyers.

“The speed of change in the legal sector has never been greater. 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 further increased activity in energy, technology and international business,” continued Mr. Lawson.

“A principle of service excellence is at the core of our client engagement and we have invested heavily in people and our systems to support this, deepening our talent pool and creating operational efficiencies. A string of awards for our IP, Tech and Employment practices underlines that the strategy is paying off.”

The firm’s broad range of work highlights demonstrate Corporate Scotland’s resilience in the current political and economic climate. An upturn in inward investment into Scotland, particularly in the leisure sector where the firm saw a surge in hotels activity and the renewable energy sector - working on onshore wind projects across Scotland with a generating capacity in excess of 400MW.

Housebuilding has also performed strongly, with the firm providing advice on residential developments throughout Scotland totalling over 11,000 dwellings. Aberdeen and the wider oil and gas industry continue to bounce back, while GDPR and the development and regulation of the evolving fintech industry have offered scope for developing new service lines.

Mr Lawson added: “The changing geo-political situation and the impact of the technological revolution will generate enormous changes in the way business is conducted. Analysing the problems and the opportunities will be one thing, creating solutions will be another. We are already embracing this.

“Culture is another potent driver of growth at Burness Paull. Nurturing talent and attracting top performers from other firms is creating an environment in which people at all levels feel empowered to contribute to the growth of the firm. Six recent partner appointments, including the lateral hire of restructuring specialist Michael Thomson from Pinsent Masons, and internal promotions in financial services, corporate finance, banking and employment are testament to the effectiveness of our developing leaders programme. We are also pleased to be able to retain 23 newly qualified lawyers in the firm, representing a Newly Qualified retention rate of well over 90 per cent.”

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