McClure Naismith overhauls firm in face of ‘difficult times’

Scottish firm McClure Naismith has ditched its lockstep and revamped its management structure in response to ‘difficult’ trading conditions.

Banking partner Robin Shannan has been appointed to the new role of executive chairman and will focus on heading internal meetings and improving communication lines within the firm.

As a result, McClures has scrapped its chairman role and incumbent Alan Thomson will move to form part of the firm’s board, which replaces the old management committee. Other board members are partners Ewen Brown, Steven Brown, Morag Campbell, Philip Sim, David Thomson, and chief financial officer Allan Bradley.

Bradley, Campbell and Sim were all members of the old management committee, as was Shannan. The only committee member not included in the new plans is partner Euan Duncan, who is leaving the firm to join MacRoberts (1 October 2012).

According to Shannan, the firm switched from using a committee to a board as an internal statement of intent as much as anything else, reflecting its desire to become more corporate.

As well as overhauling management, the firm has moved to a modified lockstep, meaning that partners can move down as well as up the equity ladder. Performance will now also play a part in partners’ remuneration. The firm has created extra profit pools to reward its highest billers as well as those that fulfil non-financial criteria, such as helping to develop associates.

Shannan said that the firm is looking to create a junior equity partner role, which will complement the existing equity and fixed-share tiers of partner. Junior equity partners will pay less into to the equity than full partners and their contributions will be taken from retained earnings.

Shannan added that the decision to move away from the pure lockstep model was down to the “difficult times” faced by lawyers in the Scottish market, which he said was significantly more pressing that the situation faced by English counterparts, in particular those in the South East.

McClures’ turnover in 2011-12 was £13.2m, nudging up from £13.1m the previous year.