The team at Legal Matters Scotland informs thousands of legal professionals of the latest stories shaping their profession. In this article, we have highlighted a selection of articles from recent months that have appeared in Legal Matters Scotland pertaining to the activities at Scottish legal firms. Subjects here range from hybrid workforce arrangements, environmental initiatives, marketing trends, appointments, expansions, and M&A activity.

Society achieves AML levy exemption for most Scots law firms

In a positive response to pressure applied by the Law Society of Scotland, plans to introduce a new economic crime levy, will see smaller law firms exempted. The organisation argued it would be wrong to add such a financial burden to all law firms, particularly given the enormous pressure the profession has faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Society stressed in particular that the targeting of small high street firms with an additional levy would create a disproportionate burden. Consequently, of the 750 law firms in Scotland covered by the scope of the Money Laundering Regulations and therefore potentially eligible to pay the levy, only a small number will come in above the revenue threshold and therefore be subject to the additional financial burden. “This is a society-wide issue and we were very clear that we opposed the levy in principle, however, we are pleased that the UK Government has responded positively to our firm arguments that small high-street firms should be exempt from an additional economic levy", said Lorna Jack, chief executive of the Law Society of Scotland. “It remains disappointing that around 20 of our largest firms will not be exempt, but we will continue to work with our members to support them through the changes.” The first levy payments will be made in 2023/24 and it is anticipated that £100m per annum will be raised from 2023/24 onwards.
The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland

Burness Paull boosts green credentials with Pawprint

Burness Paull has become the first law firm to sign up with eco-tech firm Pawprint, saying this will help it step up its efforts to tackle climate change. Edinburgh-based Pawprint says its platform empowers employees to measure, understand and reduce their carbon footprints using the Pawprint app supported by a business insights platform. It includes employee sentiment analysis and carbon data information, “enabling the business to fully understand and support employee efforts as well as shaping the corporate sustainability strategy to align employee sentiment and business goals”. “As a firm we are committed to embedding ESG even more into our culture and DNA, and continually looking at how we can improve our environmental performance", said Burness Paull chair Peter Lawson. “Using the Pawprint app gives everyone at the firm the opportunity to get involved and make a difference, providing a way for us all to lead a more sustainable life and reduce our carbon footprint".
Edinburgh Evening News 

Scots law firms reveal merger deal

Two Scottish law firms have merged as they seek to capitalise on strong demand for legal services. The merger will combine the private client, residential conveyancing and commercial practice of Campbell Riddell Breeze Paterson with Holmes Mackillop's specialisms in family law, corporate deal-making and litigation. All offices will be retained and there will be no redundancies. Richard Leggett and Robert Stewart of Campbell Riddell Breeze Paterson will be become directors and voting shareholders in Holmes Mackillop, and all of their staff will join the enlarged group. The merged business will trade initially as Holmes Mackillop Solicitors incorporating Campbell Riddell Breeze Paterson and then become Holmes Mackillop.
The Herald 

Shoosmiths eyes Scottish expansion with larger Glasgow office

Shoosmiths will move its Glasgow office this coming Monday, 18 October. The UK law firm has leased around 5,000 sq ft at The Garment Factory on Montrose Street in Glasgow’s business and innovation district. Real estate partner Barry McKeown was recently named as head of the Glasgow office. Mr McKeown commented: “I am very pleased to see our expanding team of talented lawyers and support staff moving into our new Glasgow premises. Though we’ve worked from a small hub on West Regent Street since 2019, this lease of significant attractive office space in the heart of Glasgow marks a step-change in our operation and ambitions in the west of Scotland.”
The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland

Law firms increasingly using YouTube for marketing

YouTube is growing in popularity as a marketing tool for some of the biggest law firms in the US to promote their expertise, according to new research. Research by Passle, a marketing platform for professional services firms, shows that 144 of the top 200 firms used the video platform. US personal injury firm Morgan & Morgan was the most popular, registering more than eight million views. Jones Day, which came second, registered 265,884 views. However, LinkedIn remained the social media platform of choice, with a combined following totalling more than three million. Nine of the 10 firms with the most followers have UK offices: Baker McKenzie; Hogan Lovells; White & Case; Norton Rose Fulbright; Kirkland & Ellis; DLA Piper; Latham & Watkins; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; and Jones Day.
Law Gazette

Womble Bond Dickinson offers hybrid working to UK staff

Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) is offering its staff the choice of whether they wish to be office-based, home-based or a combination of the two, under a new hybrid working model. The company is letting its people blend personal preferences with business and clients' needs without any mandatory requirements being set across the business, other than for those in learning roles. The decision follows a firmwide employee and partner survey asking how lawyers, professional advisers and business professionals wanted to work post-pandemic. "Technological developments have transformed our business practices and with investment in collaborative technologies, we have found new ways of hybrid working that suit our people without adversely affecting productivity or our ability to deliver excellent client service," said WBD's UK managing director Jonathan Blair.
The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland

Naomi Pryde is lawyer of the year

Naomi Pryde, a partner at DWF, has been named as Scotland’s lawyer of the year. She impressed judges at the Scottish Legal Awards with her technical qualities alongside efforts to tackle period poverty as well as improve diversity and inclusion across the sector. Firm of the year went to Jones Whyte Law; the judges were impressed with its financial performance and the strength of its strategy. Livingstone Brown's Stuart Munro was named managing partner of the year and the firm also picked up the criminal defence team title. Digby Brown, Neilson’s, Anderson Strathern and TLT were among the other firms which also won prizes. Lorna Jack, the outgoing chief executive of the Law Society of Scotland, received the lifetime achievement award.
The Times  

David Jackson named as Shoosmiths' next CEO

Shoosmiths has announced that partner David Jackson is to become its chief executive from May 1st 2022, replacing Simon Boss, who did not stand for re-election. Mr Jackson leads Shoosmiths’ national Commercial Group and has been at the forefront of the development and launch of major LegalTech solutions and other offerings including the complementary non-legal service arm, Shoosmiths8 Connected Services. He has been a Shoosmiths partner for 15 years, having joined the firm in 2006 from Compass Group plc, where he was legal counsel.
The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland

Shepherd & Wedderburn to take bigger Aberdeen offices

Shepherd & Wedderburn is to move its Aberdeen office later this year, bringing the firm capacity to double its headcount in the city. The firm has secured premises at 37 Albyn Place. Managing partner Andrew Blain commented: “This latest investment... reflects our confidence in the economic potential of the region, particularly in sectors where we have particular expertise, such as renewables, education, corporate, agribusiness and private wealth and tax.”
Law Society of Scotland

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