Edinburgh-based Brodies has just signed up Tods Murray partner Bruce Stephen to head its six-partner banking group. Stephen will begin his role on 2 April. Derek Arnott, stepping down from his post as head of group legal for the Royal Bank of Scotland, will also be joining the firm as a consultant on 15 April. Solicitor -advocate Robin Macpherson, formerly head of litigation at Robson McLean, joined in October 2001. These new recruits replace William Holligan, who left last autumn to become a sheriff, and Susan Craig, who left for Shepherd & Wedderburn's litigation department in September. It is hoped that the combination of Stephen's banking expertise and Arnott's financial knowledge will give the firm a new edge in banking.
“We have quite a balanced practice that is very reflective of the Scottish marketplace,” says Bill Drummond, the firm's managing partner. “We have strengths in all the main areas that are required by the buyers of legal services: commercial property, litigation, employment and private business work. We've focused on the way the client base has developed to ensure that the key practice areas are all well resourced as opposed to focusing on any one to the detriment of others.”
Drummond hopes to achieve a 20 per cent increase in income in the year ahead. The focus will be corporate commercial, litigation and employment. Growth last year was 15 per cent, with litigation and employment growing the fastest.
The firm has just come to the end of a three-year plan involving the restructuring of fee-earner groups. “We've applied greater focus within our traditional department structure to client and business sectors. It's been a step away from the traditional approach, focusing on the sectors that the clients operate within,” says Drummond. “I believe we communicate among ourselves exceptionally well.
“Brodies' particular strength is the ability of the partnership to work in teams. It's led to some of the biggest property projects done in Scotland being handled by us. We're able to make decisions for and with clients very quickly; it gives clients competitive advantage. It also gives us an advantage when trying to secure new work.”
One example is the firm's handling of the Scottish work of Telereal (a joint venture between Land Securities Trillium and Pears Group) and the outsourcing of BT's £2.38bn property portfolio – the UK's largest deal of this nature to date. It is also acting on the physical relocation of Edinburgh's Telford College and continues to do ongoing work for Corus on its regeneration of Ravenscraig Steelworks. It has recently been appointed to Ofgem's legal panel and previously acted on the instructions of the Department of Trade and Industry in the legal separation of the businesses of the Scottish electricity generators.
A continued commitment to litigation, employment and private client has led Brodies into dispute resolution and trust and tax work. “It puts us in a strong position to be able to capture new work as it comes into the Scottish marketplace and from existing Scottish business that require ever more strength in a whole range of these services, rather than any one particular area,” says Drummond.
There are currently 32 partners occupying one office in Edinburgh. Turnover is expected to be between £12.5m and £15m.