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Edinburgh-headquartered Morton Fraser has managed to continue growing in spite of the recession. Last September the firm acquired Scottish firm Skene Edwards, which swelled its headcount by 24.
Chief executive Linda Urquhart says Morton Fraser has a “broad and diverse” portfolio that “is essential in the current market”. Around a third of its business is focused on private client work. Urquhart says that, despite the recession, the firm is growing across the board, with the counter-cyclical litigation team, which includes a family and employment team, being “one team that stands out”.
Instructions come from both the public and private sectors, Urquhart says, adding that the firm counts the Scottish government among its clients, which also include Barclays, Lloyds TSB and Travelodge.
The firm had seen an increase in pressure on fees. “Clients are looking for increasing values for money,” says Urquhart. “In the public sector they’re looking for value-added services, which could mean training.”
The pressure has been felt internally and the firm made 13 redundancies earlier this year. “We’ve been monitoring resources,” explains Urquhart. “We’ve done well because of the spread of our work. We’re still recruiting in some areas and we’ve been able to redeploy some people.”
That said, the firm is still hiring into litigation and employment and recently added a senior associate to its private client practice. This comes ahead of a move into larger premises in Edinburgh next month, which will provide space for more hires. “We’ll look to grow there, it’s a priority,” insists Urquhart. “That could mean teams, individuals or bolt-ons.”
Urquhart says Morton Fraser has seen a marked increase in instructions from outside Scotland and she anticipates that this will continue as the firm expands both its Glasgow and London teams.
The past year has been tough on all firms. But for firms such as Morton Fraser it has also provided an opportunity to reflect on the future of the business. And for Morton Fraser, that means growth.
Chief executive: Linda Urquhart Turnover: £16.3m Number of partners: 35 Number of equity partners: 27 Number of lawyers: 95 Number of fee-earners: 135 Number of offices: Three Locations: Edinburgh, Glasgow, London Main practice areas: Corporate, banking, private client, commercial real estate, construction, planning, litigation Clients: Scottish government, Ministry of Defence, UK Atomic Energy Authority, Health and Safety Executive, Royal Mail, RBS, Barclays, Travelodge