Burness Paull & Williamsons
UK top 200 ranking: 94 (Burness), 151 (Paull & Williamsons)
Burness Paull & Williamsons is the result of a merger between Scotland's Burness and Aberdeen firm Paull & Williamsons, which went live on 1 December 2012, creating a firm with a combined turnover of around £37.6m.
The tie-up will see the firm gain equal coverage of what Burness chairman Philip Rodney dubs Scotland’s ‘golden triangle’, with offices spanning Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The two firms had slightly mixed fortunes in 2011–12, however. Burness had another good year with a turnover rise of 4 per cent to £24.3m, making it the firm's third consecutive year of revenue growth. After a marginal decline in 2008-09, in 2009–10 the firm saw a rise of 5 per cent to £21.2m followed by a rise of 10 per cent to £23.4m in 2010–11.
Meanwhile Paull & Williamsons suffered a slight decline in turnover during the 2011–12 financial year, with the figure dropping by 6 per cent, from £13.9m to £13.1m.
Nonetheless, the combination of the two firms' complementary skillsets looks to stand the new outfit in good stead going forward. Burness handled a steady flow of high-quality mandates throughout 2011–12, which saw it line up alongside Norton Rose to advise Lloyds Banking Group and RBS on a £94m funding package for the construction of a wind farm in Argyll. It is deals like these which saw the firm boost its revenue per partner figure to £715,000. This in turn helped push Burness' profit margin up from 40 per cent in 2010–11 to 42 per cent.
Paull & Williamsons has traditionally operated in four main practice areas – business, property, dispute resolution and private client – and for years it has had a particular bias towards the oil and gas sector, a mainstay of the Aberdeen economy. Renewable energy, which is a key preoccupation of the Scottish government, is also a strong suit and a key focus. The firm also advises on related issues, such as property in relation to wind farms and contracts for undersea cable laying, which ties in nicely with Burness' work portfolio to date.
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Overview50 Lothian Road
Turnover (£m): 37.6
No of lawyers: 158