Harper Macleod posts 9.5 per cent revenue jump to £21m

Scottish firm Harper Macleod has posted record financial results that reveal solid growth in what continues to be a tough local market.

Martin Darroch
Martin Darroch

The firm’s turnover for the 2012-13 year ending 31 March was £21m, a 9.5 per cent increase in fee income on 2011-12.

Harper Macleod also saw its number of fee-earners rise by 8 per cent from 166 to 179, while the number of partners rose from 46 to 53

Chief executive Martin Darroch said the firm had set a target of breaking through the £20m barrier. “It’s been a very good year all round, but in reality for us it continues to be business as usual,” added Darroch. “We have an established no-nonsense strategy and our message has been consistent.”

Darroch said the results marked a “coming of age” for Harper Macleod.

“There is now recognition of our place in the market as a leading full-service commercial law firm,” Darroch argued. “Some of our larger competitors have 150 years of a head start but apart from those we have raced ahead of, we’re catching every other one and that is our continued opportunity. We have scratched the surface but we’ve yet to dig further down.”

The 2012-13 results mean that Harper Macleod’s fee income has doubled since 2005-06, when it recorded £10.5m, a period when the Scottish legal market and wider economy have endured a difficult financial climate.

Over the past few months the Scottish legal market has seen significant consolidation, much of it related to the financial crisis-related, including most recently the collapse of Semple Fraser (1 April 2013).

In contrast over the past year 24 new lawyers have joined Harper Macleod’s offices, including five in Edinburgh, two in Inverness and 17 in the firm’s Glasgow headquarters.

Significant additions include three partners from McClure Naismith, with Euan Pirie and Euan Mitchell creating a new infrastructure and projects team and wave and tidal energy expert Steven Brown adding to the firm’s energy and natural resources team (1 October 2012).

In addition restructuring partner Gordon Hollerin joined from Semple Fraser. Hollerin previously headed the litigation, insolvency and regulatory group at DLA Piper.

The firm also continued to develop its own talent, making seven promotions in January, including three new partners, and another three promotions to associate on 1 April.

Darroch said the firm’s growth had been driven by gaining additional market share across all of the firm’s sectors.

“First of all that requires retaining all of the talented people we want to retain,” Darroch said. “Secondly we supplement that with other talented people who will add something extra to the business for our clients.”

Significant business wins include the appointment in March 2013 to provide property management legal services to the Forestry Commission Scotland and the firm’s role as legal adviser to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.