Hot 100: Philip Rodney, Burness Paull & Williamsons

Burness Paull & Williamsons chairman Philip Rodney (scroll down for video interview) had an epic 2012.


Not only did he lead his legacy firm Burness to its third consecutive year of revenue growth, but he also brokered a deal that has changed the face of the Scottish legal landscape.

Like its Edinburgh-headquartered rival Brodies, Burness, which started out as a Glasgow firm, derives all its revenues from the Scottish market. While Brodies smashed the former Scottish big four’s stranglehold on the turnover leaderboard in 2010-11, Burness’s December 2012 merger with Aberdeen’s Paull & Williamsons means two Scotland-only firms now dominate, McGrigors having been taken out of the frame by its May 2012 takeover by Pinsent Masons.

Looking back over the year, Rodney says: “In a difficult market, to have had our best trading year ever was a highlight. We’ve got more market share, our turnover was up and we’ve seen consistent improvement in everything we’ve been doing.”

Rodney puts the firm’s success down to the fact that “unlike other firms, we’ve been used to having to look for business”. In this respect Rodney is the firm’s greatest asset.

A prime networker and all-round nice chap, there is barely a managing partner in the City who Rodney isn’t on good terms with.

The result? An abundance of referral relationships that saw Burness derive 20 per cent of its 2011-12 revenue from work passed on from other firms.

As if all that was not enough, music-mad Rodney also took his 15-year-old son to Loch Ness-based festival Rockness in June, an experience he describes as “a father and son rite of passage”.