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Second office in Scotland; presence puts the pressure on Scottish big four
CMS Cameron McKenna is launching an office in Edinburgh. It will be the firm's second Scottish office, with the other in Aberdeen. The Edinburgh office will act as a service location for lawyers in London and Aberdeen, with no permanent staff. It will be part of the Aberdeen profit centre. However, there are hints that this situation could change. Camerons Aberdeen senior partner Penelope Warne said: "The Edinburgh office will help us service existing cross-border clients and be closer to Court of Session cases. I'm not prepared to say at the moment whether we are going to staff the office permanently. I expect we will wait and see how it goes." Warne admitted that the Edinburgh location would be attractive for Scottish or English lawyers wanting to work for the firm in Scotland. For the past three months, the Scottish legal market has been awash with rumours about Camerons' planned presence in Edinburgh. Camerons has profits per partner almost double that of top Scottish firm McGrigor Donald and the Edinburgh launch could threaten what some see as the cosy dominance enjoyed by the big four Scottish firms. Camerons and McGrigors share a number of cross-border clients. Camerons is on the Royal Bank of Scotland's new panel and McGrigors has advised the bank on the launch of its internet banking facilities. Both firms also work for the Bank of Scotland. McGrigors managing partner Kirk Murdoch said: "Camerons is a successful law firm, and any successful law firm in our marketplace must be considered as some form of threat. Mcgrigor Donald and the other major players are covering most aspects of the marketplace in Scotland. There aren't any obvious gaps." Camerons' Aberdeen office is a niche practice focusing on the oil and gas industries. Chief executive Robert Derry-Evans would not comment on whether the firm's Edinburgh office was the start of a planned assault on the mainstream Scottish market. "One reason for opening in Edinburgh was to have a base for the International Bar Association energy conference we're helping to organise in the city," he said. "After the conference finishes at the end of May 2002, we will review the situation."