Eighty jobs have been saved but 42 lost following the news that McClure Naismith appointed administrators on Friday as it was no longer able to deal with its debt and other liabilities after years of declining revenues.
The firm appointed FRP Advisory partners Tom MacLennan and Iain Fraser, who also dealt with the administrations of Semple Fraser and Tods Murray.
In 2006, with a steady flow of work from Bank of Scotland and RBS, the firm moved to new offices in Edinburgh’s Ponton Street, where it took on a 16-year lease on about 16,000 square feet.
By 2011/12 the firm had allocated seven per cent of its turnover to property costs but the banks were by then no longer a reliable source of turnover.
McClures turnover in 2014/15 is believed to have been in and around £10 million, which would mean its annual rent of £944,000 accounted for more than nine per cent of its turnover.
It was evident earlier this year the LLP was struggling after it failed to file its accounts at Companies House, attributing this to an “embarrassing error” over paperwork.
The firm agreed deals with a number of law firms for the sale of work in progress related to the move of partners and staff as follows:
- Harper MacLeod – 5 partners
- MacLay Murray & Spens – 5 partners
- Burness Paull – 3 partners
- Morton Fraser – 1 partner
- HBJ Gateley -1 partner
In addition to the 15 partners above, 40 staff have been offered employment by the above firms and other firms with whom the joint administrators have been in discussion.
Thirty members of staff, including administrative and legal personnel from McClure’s corporate, consumer finance, dispute resolution, real estate and private client practices, are moving to MMS’ London and Glasgow offices.
A further seven partners are in advanced discussions with additional firms for their and their staff’s moves.
Four current and future trainees have also been offered contracts.
The joint administrators are retaining 14 staff of the firm and further developments are expected regarding partners and staff who have yet to confirm destination firms, leading towards an anticipated total of 80 partners and staff of the firm imminently moving to other firms.
The remaining partners and staff have been made redundant.
Tom MacLennan, joint administrator and partner with FRP Advisory said: “We are pleased to have negotiated agreements facilitating employment with a wide range of firms and wish them and their new staff every success.
“We would also like to extend our appreciation to the Law Society of Scotland and the Solicitors Regulation Authority for their support.”
Kenneth Shand, chief executive of MMS , said: “The opportunity to hire a talented and committed group of individuals such as this is rare.
“Those joining us will augment our existing teams, enabling us to further extend our client reach and capabilities.
“It reinforces our development of the firm through a multi-faceted approach, both nurturing internal talent and bringing in lateral hires.”
Joining MMS today are: Wilson Aitken (property – Glasgow), Morag Campbell (corporate/finance – Glasgow), Frank Johnstone (consumer finance/debt recovery – Glasgow), Philip Sewell (dispute resolution – London), Robin Shannan (corporate/finance – Glasgow).
Commenting on the news, Lorna Jack, chief executive of the Law Society of Scotland said: “McClure Naismith is one of Scotland’s oldest firms and has been a proud part of the Scottish legal profession for almost 200 years.
“We are sorry to see it go into administration but understand this was the only viable option given the challenges faced by the business.
“It is clear that much work has already been undertaken to protect the interests of the firm’s clients and to minimise the disruption during the transfer of business which will now follow.
“Equally, it is good to see so many of the firm’s staff and trainees being placed into other Scottish and UK firms. However, there are many others who worked hard within McClure Naismith and who now face an extremely difficult and uncertain period.
“We have a package of support and dedicated staff available to solicitors who are affected by the announcement and we will be offering that help to anyone who needs it.
“Whilst today’s announcement is regrettable, our own research shows increased optimism within the legal profession as well as a more buoyant legal market.
“That said, the profession is undergoing phenomenal change with digitalisation and technology, changing expectations from clients and new entrants to the market all requiring firms to adapt and innovate in the way they do business.
“It underlines the need for firms to be flexible and to modernise in what is a highly competitive market.”