Three north and north-east firms have been singled out for special praise in an annual review of the UK’s legal market.
The latest edition of the Legal 500, highlighting who does best in different areas of law in Britain, says Aberdein Considine, Ledingham Chalmers and Stronachs are “highly regarded” outside Scotland’s central belt.
All three firms are based in Aberdeen, with Ledingham Chalmers and Stronachs also operating out of Inverness.
Aberdein Considine has branches throughout the north-east, as well as in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Livingston, Perth and Newcastle.
The report says the Scottish legal market is “as competitive as ever”, representing an “interesting” mix of indigenous Scottish and London-headquartered, international firms.
Pinsent Masons, has “strength throughout the team, the document says, highlighting Pinsent’s role at the heart of
Ithaca Energy’s £1 billion takeover by Israel’s Delek Group and also the £87 million flotation of Elgin-based Springfield Properties.
Shepherd and Wedderburn “consistently excels” in headline deals such as the sale of Glenallachie Distillery by Chivas Brothers, while the report says private equity work, including transactions involving Aberdeen-based Aquaterra Energy and Ellon-headquartered brewer BrewDog, is a “particular area of strength” for DLA Piper.
Brodies, Burness Paull, CMS and Pinsent Masons are listed as “tier one” firms for corporate and commercial work outside of Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The report also says Burness Paull’s Jamie Stark has “made a name for himself” in oil and gas services.
Brodies’ Douglas Crawford is among “leading individuals”, having led a team of advisers to the shareholders of Aberdeen-based Craig Group on the sale of shipping business North Star to Basalt Infrastructure Partners – “one of the biggest M&A (mergers and acquisitions) deals in Scotland in 2017”.
Mr Crawford was also lead adviser to John Lawrie (Aberdeen) shareholders in a management buyout of the firm.
The report highlights the work of many of the top lawyers supporting the Scottish oil and gas industry.
Jamie Stark, who heads up the Aberdeen team at Burness Paull, is praised for his work with director Gary Chapman on Peak Well Systems’ acquisition of Xtreme Innovation, and also the sale of the combined business to Schlumberger.
Mr Stark also advised shareholders of north-east firm Ace Winches on a £10 million equity investment by Balmoral Group, of Aberdeen.
In another key oil and gas deal, Burness Paull’s Alasdair Freeman worked with others to advise Sterling Resources on the £127m sale of its UK subsidiary.
Frank Fowlie, of CMS, is hailed in the report for leading a team which advised FTI Consulting on the administration and sale of Iona Energy Company to Decipher Energy.
The report says Pinsent Masons has a “particularly strong offering” in oil and gas, with its team acting for clients including Zennor Petroleum, KCA Deutag, Superior Energy Group and DNO Norge.
It singles out Pinsent’s Martin Ewan for his work advising Baker Hughes on its acquisition of Caledyne, adding:
“Legal director Jonathan Kirkwood is another name to note in the team, which saw Roger Connon step down as a partner to become head of oil and gas at the firm’s legal resourcing business, Vario.”
Blackwood Partners’ “particularly strong track record” in the sector and “outstanding reputation” in Aberdeen was thanks, in no small part to the efforts of managing partner Alastair Wyper and his team, the report says.
Richard Scott, partner and head of Aberdeen office at Pinsent, which received 21 “tier one” rankings across a range of specialist categories, said the Legal 500 report showed the north east business community was well served.