Brief encounter: McCLURE NAISMITH

McClure Naismith is a mid-range, well-known Scottish corporate commercial firm. Celebrating its 175th anniversary this year, it has revealed an ambitious business plan to increase fee income by 50 per cent and double the number of staff by 2004.

Having recently conducted extensive client research, the firm has modified its corporate logo – clients told the firm that it should market its successes in stronger terms. Reputation is everything to McClure Naismith, which has a cultural philosophy of "making a difference" to its clients.

Based in Glasgow but with Edinburgh and London offices, the firm's main areas are corporate, commercial, litigation and commercial property. The firm believes in a one-stop service, which led to the opening of its London office in 1991.

In deals ranging between £10-20m, McClure Naismith feels it has a competitive advantage, as it can source work in London but use the lower rates of its Scottish back-office functions. Although the Scottish offices house some dual-qualified practitioners, the London office reduced the need for this. Most work done in Scotland is subject to Scottish law.

The firm intends to achieve its steep expansion targets by organic growth and lateral hires. It aims to ensure that partners are involved with clients at all stages of a transaction.

Debt recovery and consumer finance are a large part of the firm's work. In recovery, among others it acts for Marks & Spencer Financial Services, BMW Financial Services, MBNA and First National Bank.

John Blackwood, the banking and asset finance head, was poached by McClure Naismith from his previous position as director of legal operations at the Bank of Scotland last year. The firm is now working on building preferred partnering arrangements with the bank in the business and personal banking sectors. Helplines are provided to the bank and the firm supplies an "in-house banking capability" for advice and documentation review.

Advice is provided on a range of public finance initiative (PFI) projects, with head of finance and PFI Steven Brown's past experience in acting on overseas project finance work.

Last year, McClure Naismith acted on US company Plexus Corp's £17.5m acquisition of Keltek Electronics (a UK manufacturer of printed circuit boards) and Segerstrom & Svensson's £20m acquisition of Scottish company Lewis C Grant. Clients across the various departments of McClure Naismith include Compaq, Burford Holdings, Equitable Life, Linn hi-fi and Celtic Football Club.

The firm picked up property partner Jeremy Fieldhouse from West End commercial firm Jeffrey Green Russell at the beginning of 2000, having spent most of 1999 being touted as a potential Scottish suitor for Eversheds.

It finished 2000 by investing £1m in a new IT system which it claimed was the most high-tech package at any Scottish firm. It includes Elite Version 2, a US practice management system, as well as 11 Windows NT 4 servers and more than 150 Windows NT workstations and laptops. Extranet technology is also used for direct connections and communication with some clients.