Boundary crossing

It has long been traditional for Scots business people, whether lawyers or otherwise, to travel further afield in search of new markets.

Earlier this month, Glasgow-based firm Bishop and Robertson Chalmers opened an office in Vilnius, Lithuania. And it is the international market which is the main growth area for Aberdeen-based firm Ledingham Chalmers.

Head of commercial David Laing considers that the market is not as active as it might have been, although the oil industry still makes a significant contribution to the demand for legal services. Generally, he says, there is no longer the same number of major deals, and businesses are not being bought and sold quite as rapidly, which, he adds “is not necessarily a bad thing”.

Although it appears that there is still a reasonable amount of confidence in the revenue potential of the North Sea, more recently the oil industry expertise and the professionals who service it are being exported overseas.

“Law firms are following the companies who are spreading their wings and looking for new markets – lawyers will follow the work wherever it goes, within reason,” says Laing.

With his firm, this includes an office in the unlikely setting of the Falkland Islands, and a rapidly expanding practice

related to the oil industry in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Nearer home, Maclay Murray & Spens and Morton Fraser Milligan have Brussels offices to deal with competition law.

However, Eric Galbraith, head of corporate at Dorman Jeffrey & Co, says: “There has to be a commercial imperative before expanding either inside or outside the country. Commercial opportunities are under constant review and assessment, with any expansion likely to be transaction-led.”