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Society blog

30 Aug 17

A paralegal's tale

Janet Rieu-Clarke, the Law Society’s accredited paralegal, explains the path that led her to new role at the Society and the rationale behind the new accredited paralegal status.

30 Aug 17

A call to vote from John Scott

John Scott QC urges his fellow solicitor advocates to vote for their dedicated representative

29 Aug 17

No globalisation without representation...

Katie Hay discusses the globalisation of the legal market and urges Scottish solicitors working internationally, to get involved

24 Jul 17

Bringing the world to "world-class"

Sarah Sutton, digital communications executive at the Law Society of Scotland, talks about her bright idea to ensure international representation on the Society’s Council

26 Jun 17

The Debate - backstage, front of house and top tips

In this mini-series of blogs, three key players in the Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament share their individual perspectives of the event.

19 Jun 17

Got a passion for the profession?

Could one of the 23 current vacancies for 16 different committees be just right for you?

28 Apr 17

Professional Practice - advising the advisers

Scottish solicitors help their clients through some of the most momentous occasions of their lives, personal or professional, good or bad. But where do solicitors turn for support? Prof Prac, that's where.

1 Nov 16

How getting involved in debating can change your life

Head of education Rob Marrs explains how getting involved in debating, whether as competitor or judge, can be incredibly rewarding. And more importantly, he explains how to win a debate.

14 Oct 16

Career development and volunteering at the Law Society of Scotland

If you want to enhance your career, develop your skills or just give back to your profession, there are lots of different personal and professional development opportunities at the Society

4 Oct 16

Going international – a Scots lawyer's week at the IBA

John Morgan, a newly qualified solicitor at Brodies, recently received a scholarship from the International Bar Association to attend its annual conference in Washington DC. He tells of his experience

Editors Blog

Mergers and markets

9 Nov 17

After the Maclays-Dentons merger, what now for the independent Scottish legal firm?

The beginning of this month saw the completion of the merger between Maclay Murray & Spens and Dentons, thus giving what is currently the world’s largest legal firm a substantial presence in Scotland.

So our small jurisdiction can now truly boast every size of practice from the newest sole practitioner startup to the biggest there is. That in a market which many believe to be still suffering from overcapacity and ripe for further “consolidation”, as the jargon has it.

Maclays have made no secret of their motives, and they reflect those of other leading firms that have chosen international mergers. The trend is for major clients that appoint law firm panels to cut drastically the number of chosen firms, and to seek those who can offer a UK-wide service, rather than maintain a separate Scottish panel. Conversely, it opens up opportunities for the Scottish based arm to win new business elsewhere – and for Scots-qualified lawyers to explore career paths worldwide.

Does it mean the end of the larger independent Scottish firm? Demonstrably not. Brodies, Burness Paull and Harper Macleod are only the largest of the respected substantial practices that have previously declared their commitment to focusing on the Scottish market, and to date have shown no sign of altering that strategy.

No particular strategy is right or wrong in itself. Some question whether the Scottish market is big enough to support ambitious practices. Burness Paull’s Philip Rodney had an answer in our July feature previewing his address to the Society’s annual conference: “Since I qualified, people have been writing Scotland off, and they’ve been saying the same thing, that businesses get bigger and then move to London. But Scottish business has the ability to regenerate itself.” As a leading example he cited Skyscanner, before going on to highlight the level of inward investment into Scotland and the need to service that market.

That does not mean that competition for work anywhere will be less than keen, or that those who are not prepared to be innovative will pick up work just the same. Some will still fall by the wayside. But the international interest in merging with Scottish practices must itself provide some sort of vote of confidence in the prospects for the domestic market.

There are those who worry about the extent to which leading Scottish firms are no longer controllers of their own destiny. It seems to me that should international interest in Scotland ever weaken, there are many still here who are ready and willing to take their place.

Have your say

Your comment

Lindsay Leggat-Smith

Thursday January 11, 2018, 12:20

Your closing words inspire me to suggest that Scottish trained lawyers will always control their own destiny and those of many others besides. Watch closely to see who soon manages this latest behemoth worldwide!

Blog archive

9 Jan 18

Hold tight for 2018

Get set for another rollercoaster ride through the year

4 Dec 17

Trends and revelations

From the Journal employment survey: sexual harassment must be taken seriously

9 Nov 17

Mergers and markets

After the Maclays-Dentons merger, what now for the independent Scottish legal firm?

9 Oct 17

For the greater good

The profession should support those who attempt to improve the lot of the most vulnerable

11 Sep 17

Brexit and the legal order

Government recognition of the need to continue civil judicial cooperation with EU countries after Brexit is welcome, but how can it exclude the involvement of the CJEU?

7 Aug 17

Taking access to justice seriously

The House of Lords decision on employment tribunal fees elevates this constitutional principle

10 Jul 17

Advance of the courts

There is momentum behind civil procedure reform, and practitioners need to be alert to have their say

12 Jun 17

Defend our rights

Don't sacrifice rights to combat terrorism; welcome to Edinburgh for the UK Supreme Court

8 May 17

Review time

Patience will be needed as regards the outcome of the new review of legal services regulation, but there is much for the profession to concern itself with meantime

10 Apr 17

Complaints about the Commission

It is not surprising that solicitors are complaining about the SLCC budget and levy – but what should be done?