Former Maclays chief leads MBO of employment business

Employment and health and safety specialist Law At Work (LAW) has split from majority shareholder Maclay Murray & Spens following a management buy-out (MBO).


Magnus Swanson
Magnus Swanson

LAW chairman Magnus Swanson, who was Maclays’ chief executive until last year, led the MBO along with the consultancy’s chief executive Jane Wright and its director of legal services Donald MacKinnon. Swanson, Wright and MacKinnon are now LAW’s sole shareholders.

LAW’s management team turned to Glasgow-based DLA Piper corporate partner Neil Burgess for advice on the MBO, which was financed by HSBC.

LAW was established in 2001 and now employs a team of 30 lawyers and staff. The consultancy, which works for fixed fees, will shortly move to new offices in Glasgow and Edinburgh following the MBO. Previously, parts of LAW had been run out of Maclays’ offices.

Swanson stepped down as Maclays’ chief executive in January 2011, after serving three terms in the role (21 January 2011). He initially returned to fee earning in Maclays’ corporate group, but left the firm altogether earlier this year.

In a statement, Swanson, who has been on LAW’s board since its inception, said: “Upon leaving MMS earlier this year, I was keen to get involved with growing, successful businesses. I saw excellent potential in Law At Work and have been impressed by the business model. The business was nurtured by MMS in its early years and the time is now right for it to stand alone as one of Scotland’s leading fixed-fee consultancies.”

LAW chief executive Jane Wright, added: “The MBO positions us to take advantage of the major changes taking place in the delivery of legal services.

“From our perspective, the change in ownership is an extremely positive development, with the same management team and staff remaining in place to drive the business forward. It means that LAW will be able to continue to offer the same people and services to our clients, with no change in our ethos.”

LAW’s turnover for the year ending 31 May 2011 was £1.53m, up from £1.24m in 2010. Similarly, gross profit was up from £750,686 to £898,310 over the same period. The consultancy has said that it is now finalising its figures for the 2011-12 financial year and expects further growth.

LAW is not the only business to split from Maclays of late. Towards the end of the 2010-11 financial year, the firm sold its corporate advisory subsidiary Regualtory Solutions Limited to the IMS Group. According to the firm’s chief executive Chris Smylie, Maclays has been looking at streamlining as part of a strategic review of the business. In June, The Lawyer reported that the firm had brought in Deloitte to help with the strategic overhaul (19 July 2012).

Smylie said: “We’re currently undertaking a comprehensive strategic review, which has identified Law At Work’s commodity-based services as no longer core to the focus of [Maclays] and the earlier disposal of Regulatory Solutions Ltd was, similarly, consistent with our strategy to focus on our core services.”