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It was always unlikely that Aberdeen-headquartered firm Ledingham Chalmers was going to match its stellar financial performance of the 2007-08 financial year.
Twelve months ago the Scottish firm grew revenue by an astonishing 19 per cent. But with the financial crisis still in full swing, managing partner David Laing says he will be satisfied if revenue stays static for 2008-09.
“The 2008 financial year was our best ever in terms of turnover, profit and benefits to everyone at the firm,” says Laing. “But obviously we’ve faced the slowdown just like everyone else.”
Laing says that one of the hardest hit parts of the practice has been Ledingham’s residential property division in Aberdeen, essentially the estate agency services that are traditionally offered by many Scottish law firms.
However, as this represents only around 5 per cent of overall turnover, the stalling of the housing market in the north east of Scotland has not had too much of a detrimental impact on the firm’s finances.
Meanwhile, Laing says, some of the firm’s lateral hires during the year, at both partner and associate level, have helped take up some of the slack.
Notably, Ledingham brought in energy specialist and former Biggart Baillie partner Neil Anderson, a hire that should allow the firm to broaden its client offering in renewable energy.
“Typically, the entrée for smaller firms in renewable energy is acting for landowners putting up windmills,” says Laing. “But there are several other parties in the chain that ultimately takes the electricity to the power producing companies. By bringing in Neil we can say to clients that are further along the process, ‘we have both areas of expertise’.”
Energy is one of several areas Laing hopes will help Ledingham get back on the growth trail once the present economic trough comes to an end.
”We have the infrastructure to support a larger firm,” confirms Laing. “We would like to be up around the £10m to £12m level at least
Firm: Ledingham Chalmers Chairman: David Laing Turnover: £9.4m Number of partners: 23 Number of equity partners: 23 Number of lawyers: 65 (including partners) Number of fee-earners: 87 Number of offices: Three Locations: Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Inverness Main practice areas: Corporate and commercial, commercial property, litigation and private client Clients: Cairngorm National Park, Highlands & Islands Enterprise Authority, Neptune Marine Services, Plexus Group and Ramco Energy