Staff from defunct law firm seek sanctuary at Harper Macleod

Five partners from defunct law firm McClure Naismith, which went into administration on Friday (August 28, 2015), have today taken up new roles at Harper Macleod.
They’re among 10 new recruits to have jumped ship from McClure Naismith LLP, which had offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London, after being rescued by the Edinburgh-based legal firm.
Three of the partners will lead an eight-strong dispute resolution team, while the other two will head up Harper Macleod’s real estate and corporate teams at its new, larger offices in the city.
This will take the total number of partners in Harper Macleod’s Edinburgh office to 18.
As well as the partners, one associate, two solicitors and two assistants will join the firm’s litigation team.
Harper Macleod chairman professor Lorne Crerar said: “We are delighted to welcome our new colleagues into the team. We carried out a great deal of diligence to ensure that we brought in those who can add value to our offering to clients, particularly in Edinburgh, and have selected highly talented lawyers who will supplement what we already do.
“The Scottish legal profession has endured seismic change over recent years and the role of the management team here at Harper Macleod has been to ensure that such change is an opportunity to build and sustain our business as a leading supplier of legal services in Scotland. I am very pleased that we have grasped the opportunities and risen to the challenge so well. I am in no doubt that the cycle of change has not yet completed and a balanced mixture of organic and acquisitive growth will be the key to our strategy for future success.
“These appointments demonstrate our intent to continue increasing our market share in the Scottish legal market. We are one of the few truly full service national Scottish firms and that, we believe, will be a cornerstone of our future hopes for success.”
According to Harper Macleod, the new appointments follow a difficult period for McClure Naismith.
Harper Macleod chief executive Martin Darroch said: “Since we were made aware that McClure Naismith was in some difficulty we have endeavoured to co-operate with all parties involved to reach the best solution.”
On hearing Friday’s administration news, Lorna Jack, chief executive of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “McClure Naismith is one of Scotland’s oldest firms and has been a proud part of the Scottish legal profession for almost 200 years.  We are sorry to see it go into administration but understand this was the only viable option given the challenges faced by the business.
“It is clear that much work has already been undertaken to protect the interests of the firm’s clients and to minimise the disruption during the transfer of business which will now follow.  Equally, it is good to see so many of the firm’s staff and trainees being placed into other Scottish and UK firms.  However, there are many others who worked hard within McClure Naismith and who now face an extremely difficult and uncertain period.  We have a package of support and dedicated staff available to solicitors who are affected by the announcement and we will be offering that help to anyone who needs it.
“Whilst the announcement is regrettable, our own research shows increased optimism within the legal profession as well as a more buoyant legal market.  That said, the profession is undergoing phenomenal change with digitalisation and technology, changing expectations from clients and new entrants to the market all requiring firms to adapt and innovate in the way they do business.  It underlines the need for firms to be flexible and to modernise in what is a highly competitive market.”
Harper Macleod says its new recruits represent a significant potential boost of around 6% to the firm’s turnover, while the move sees the total number of partners at Harper Macleod, which achieved record fee income of £22 million in the past financial year, rise to 68.
Last year, Harper Macleod acquired niche private client firm Bird Semple, adding 35 people to its Glasgow operation.
The firm’s overall headcount is now approaching 400 following continued expansion, which also saw it move into a new, larger Edinburgh office at Citypoint, Haymarket at the start of July, tripling its footprint in the city.