While most leading Scottish firms view an ­Edinburgh office as a prerequisite for success, Dundee-headquartered Thorntons Solicitors has only had a presence in the capital since 2004.

Nick Barclay
Nick Barclay

The Tayside firm, which has had a practice in Dundee since 1857, decided to launch in Edinburgh in response to the amount of work its litigators were undertaking in the city.

“Our High Court work had to go through an Edinburgh solicitor and the litigation team said we should have our own office,” explains managing ­partner Nick Barclay, who has led the firm since 2003.

The Edinburgh office now houses nine people, with the litigation practice growing into Thorntons’ largest department, accounting for £3.6m of the firm’s £10.5m turnover in 2008-09.

Part of the reason for the litigation group’s ascendancy is the fact that the real estate practice has contracted in line with the market. As the wider Thorntons business runs one of the biggest estate agencies in the Dundee area, the firm took a hit when the property market dried up. As a result it was forced to make a number of job cuts, including fee-earners, in 2008-09. That said, the growth in litigation can also be attributed to the Edinburgh base and the fact that the firm has upped its focus on personal injury in the past five years.

Private client remains a major focus for the firm. Indeed, Barclay is a private client lawyer and spends around 40 per cent of his time on client work. The firm is also taking advantage of niche business areas that have sprung up in the Tayside area.

“We’ve got a particularly good IP team that’s picking up on the gaming industry in Dundee,” ­Barclay reveals. “The University of Abertay has built a reputable course around gaming and there’s
a network of companies in Dundee. Our IP guys have good links into them.”

Managing partner:Nick Barclay

Turnover: £10.5m

Number of partners:28

Number of lawyers:75

Number of fee-earners:120

Number of staff: 271

Number of offices:Five

Locations: Arbroath, Dundee, Edinburgh, Forfar, Perth

Main practice areas:Corporate, litigation, private client, property
Key clients: University of St Andrews, University of Abertay, National Accident Helpline, Agricultural ­Mortgage Corporation