Law firm Burness Paull posts jump in annual income after 'rapid response' to Covid crisis

Scots legal heavyweight Burness Paull has reported sharply higher fee income after a “rapid response” during the pandemic and advising on a string of high-profile transactions.

The firm, which employs more than 550 people, including 76 partners, across its key locations of Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow, posted an annual income of about £72 million for the year to July 31 - up 19 per cent on the previous 12 months. It recorded a gross profit of £33.3m - an increase of 39 per cent.

The firm said it had undertaken an “intense programme of client listening” and responded rapidly during the pandemic. Bosses highlighted growth in key sectors such as technology, health, renewables and energy transition.

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A “heightened commitment” to conducting and delivering on strategic reviews with clients has been a central platform for chairman Peter Lawson and managing partner Tamar Tammes during their initial three-year tenure, the firm added. Both were re-elected to their roles in early 2021 and set out a new three year strategic plan to build on the firm’s progress.

Burness Paull chairman Peter Lawson: 'Our commitment to building deeper client relationships was underway prior to the pandemic and we took the decision at the outset of lockdown to accelerate that support.'

Lawson, said: “Our commitment to building deeper client relationships was underway prior to the pandemic and we took the decision at the outset of lockdown to accelerate that support.

“Our employment team in particular were trailblazers in offering early-stage guidance and direction for what was an incredibly troubling set of circumstances for the client community. The positive feedback from this early action was influential in encouraging a wider programme of outreach.

“Our results have no doubt benefited from the timing of our financial year, as we’ve seen a few more months of the upturn than some other firms. However, our performance has been significantly boosted from the prior year by investments in recruitment and people development, innovation and, most importantly, an unwavering commitment to the needs of our clients and their response to shifts in the markets they operate in.”

He added: “Dealmaking transactions, an area in which we excel, did see a dip last year but the market has bounced back very strongly and our exceptional expertise in M&A [merger and acquisition] and private equity across the UK and internationally has seen our teams involved in some incredibly high-profile deals, particularly in the technology sector.”

The firm highlighted advising investment giant Abrdn - formerly Standard Life Aberdeen - on its acquisition of AI platform Exo, the Calnex Solutions initial public offering (Scotland’s first IPO in more than two years) and advising TDR and I Squared Capital on the Scots law aspects of their £2.3 billion acquisition of temporary power specialist Aggreko.

Notable technology deals included the sale of Scottish global software provider Axios Systems to Swedish-headquartered IFS, backed by private equity firms EQT and TA Associates, and supporting wearable tech company PlayerData on its equity investment by Hiro Capital.

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The legal firm’s results follow recent solid annual numbers from rivals Brodies and Shepherd and Wedderburn.

Lawson added: “With the momentum we have built we are now focused on delivering the next steps in our plan to cement the firm’s shift from steady to efficient growth through targeted expansion into key sectors underpinned by operational efficiency where relevant.”

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