THE managing partner of Lindsays has signalled the law firm’s determination to remain independent, while predicting the “unprecedented” change which has swept through in the Scottish legal sector since the financial crash years is going to continue.
Alasdair Cummings was speaking as Edinburgh-based Lindsays opened for business at its new Glasgow office.
The firm has taken the third floor at the prestigious 100 Queen Street block, having switched to bigger premises from nearby Royal Bank Place after hiring the 20-strong personal injury litigation team from Brodies. That team, led by partners David Armstrong and Jonathan Cornwell, joined in February this year.
Lindsays’ new office is home to 55 staff, including 11 partners, however it is big enough to accommodate at least 65. The firm employs a total of 246 staff, including 45 partners.
Mr Cummings described the firm’s investment in Glasgow as a “real statement of confidence and intent.” He said: “Lindsays’ roots are in Edinburgh. We’re a firm that goes all the way back to 1815, so we’re in our 202nd year of business. And I have to say I’m proud about that given what’s happened in the legal landscape over the last few years, with different firms changing, going bust, being merged etc.
“We’ve very much set our stall out as a little ‘i’ independent Scottish firm, Scottish managed looking after Scottish clients.
“The main offices we have got are the three city offices of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, and we have had quite of growth in Glasgow over the last few years, which filled up the previous office.”
Mr Cummings noted the arrival of the Brodies PI team had been the “catalyst” behind the move to a bigger office in Glasgow, where Lindsays has had a presence since its merger with Kidstons in 2007.
And he signalled that firm’s intent to grow its “full service offering”, spanning individual, business and third party charity clients, in the city.
“I’m very excited that 100 Queen Street will give us a real launch-pad to do that,” he said, noting that the firm’s heads of family and employment law, as well as PI, are based in Glasgow. The office in the west is the Lindsays’ second biggest, behind Edinburgh.
Despite the wave of consolidation which has swept across the legal sector in Scotland since the financial crash, which recently saw Maclay Murray & Spens subsumed by global giant Dentons, Mr Cummings said Lindsays is determined to remain independent.
“We have no intention of trying to merge with an English or foreign firm or anything like that,” he said.
Asked whether he expects the wave of consolidation to continue, Mr Cummings added: “Yes, is my thinking on it. The last four to five years have been unprecedented in the legal world, and the names that when I was growing up and becoming a young lawyer that were household names but are now no longer there is legion.
“In Glasgow, obviously, McGrigor Donald went into Pinsent [Masons], McClure Naismith become insolvent, Semple Fraser went down. It’s just been extraordinary, the last few years.
“Will there be more? I think there will.”
On whether Lindsays is looking to make acquisitions itself, Mr Cummings noted: “We take the view that while we are not looking for anything really significant – we are not looking to merge with another large firm – there are always opportunities that seem to come our way to talk to people.
“What we prefer doing is identifying smaller firms, or perhaps smaller teams, who we think will fit in with us, because it is so important to get the right people into the business so that everybody is going in the right direction.”