Scottish chiefs split over future of the market

A growing divide is emerging in the Scottish legal market as more firms opt for consolidation as a means to expansion, with Pinsent Masons’ Scottish chair Kirk Murdoch advocating that internationalisation is the only route forward.

In an opinion piece today, Murdoch – who was formerly senior partner of McGrigors – writes that internationalisation is the only option for Scottish firms moving forward. He said for McGrigors, merging with Pinsent Masons (6 February 2012) was the right thing to do, enabling the firm to compete in Scotland as well as grow internationally.

“We believe that it is possible to be the Scottish market leader and be something more. In fact, it is impossible to achieve one without the other,” said Murdoch. He added that by remaining independent, firms “will find themselves increasingly excluded from the top table”.

However, not all agree with Murdoch’s view.

In another of this week’s opinion pieces, Burness Paull chair Philip Rodney said: “Just because a law firm has offices in multiple jurisdictions it does not mean that it will serve the needs of the clients in these markets.”

Rodney added that understanding the Scottish market was key to success there. Although he argued strongly in favour of the independent firm model, he conceded that there was no single answer to the conundrum for Scottish firms.

“No model is absolutely right or completely wrong,” said Rodney, concluding: ”I would never put down the approach followed by others. There are many structures and strategies that, if well-executed, will succeed.”

For more on the changing shape of the Scottish market, see this week’s special report, Stronger together.