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Burness Paull has posted revenue growth of 1 per cent from £53.3m to £53.8m for the last financial year while profits fell 2.2 per cent from £22.5m to £22m.
The Scottish-based firm has seen growth slow in the last two years after a strong performance in 2014/15 saw turnover grow by 11 per cent and break the £50m barrier for the first time in the firm’s history.
Burness Paull chose to abandon its firmwide bonus pool in the previous year as a response to this decreased growth. While this remains the case, bonuses will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis for high performers.
Uncertainty in the market following Brexit and the threat of a second Scottish referendum played their parts in a slow year for the firm, said Burness Paull chairman Philip Rodney, but a focus on international work meant the firm performed “satisfactorily” last year.
The firm added eight new partners including hires from Brodies and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in real estate partner Nicky Clemence and dispute resolution partner Jody Crockett respectively. There were a number of internal promotions which saw Lindsay Wallace named as the firm’s first general counsel.
Rodney was keen to stress the firm’s commitment to investment in technology and agile working, which it is currently piloting in its Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow offices, within the firm showed its desire to be the go-to firm for investment into Scotland.
Rodney told The Lawyer: “Outside of London, the biggest region for inward investment is Scotland. We’re trying to capture that work and look to markets such as the United States, Canada and Norway which have all been mature markets for us. Recently, China, India and Israel have shown an interest towards investing in the Scottish market. Now, there’s a lot of inward investment coming from these.”
In addition to its focus on inward investment, a new three-year strategy was unveiled at the beginning of August outlining how the firm is planning to combat a stagnant Scottish market.
In terms of the sectors the firm will look to grow, Rodney spoke of the opportunities presented in offshore gas and oil operations in addition to the firm’s continued offshore renewable energy work. He also highlighted increasingly complex tax arrangements as being of great interest to Burness Paull as the government develops more intricate policies around this.
Rodney said: “Over the next six weeks, I’ll be visiting Israel, Norway, Shanghai, Barcelona and Australia. It’s indicative of the scope of our business. The trips will be mostly about getting inward investment and looking for opportunities for clients to invest in Scotland.
“It’s interesting to see how that part of our business has developed over the last couple of years. Our approach was a bit more random in the past but this has become much more focused in the last couple of years.”
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