New chair Fraser Geddes sets out ambition for Anderson Strathern

New chair Fraser Geddes sets out ambition for Anderson Strathern

Fraser Geddes

Anderson Strathern’s new chair has said the firm is perfectly positioned to continue its trajectory of strong revenue and profit growth, even in what he considers a “challenging time” for the profession and the economy.

Fraser Geddes has relinquished his position as head of the firm’s dispute resolution operation to become its full-time chair from the start of April, taking over the role from Bruce Farquhar.

He said he wants Anderson Strathern, which traces its roots back to the 1600s, to be “the biggest and best version of itself”, under his stewardship.

He added: “I fully expect our exciting levels of ambition to propel us forward with purpose. The next step will be to create some clear blue water between us and our immediate competitors.”

Mr Geddes, who has been with the firm just over 12 years, is resolute Anderson Strathern has “absolutely no desire to join up with any UK or international practices and will remain a fully independent Scottish law firm”.

He said: “I see the firm continuing to grow its income from south of the Border and overseas – as well as within Scotland - in a legal marketplace that is more focussed on offering value for money than at any other time in my career. The public and private sectors and corporate clients are all fighting ongoing inflationary pressures.”

Mr Geddes also hinted that the firm – which is soon to relocate its main base in Edinburgh to premises within Capital Square in the city’s Exchange District – is set to report further strong results from its corporate investment business, based on a particularly successful 2022.

“The economy remains challenging, certainly but I don’t expect the current recessionary clouds to linger as long as many people have feared.”

Anderson Strathern had already shifted strongly towards a remote-working culture, even before Covid forced the move on many in the Scottish workforce. But the new chair sees no reason to U-turn on that.

He commented: “We maintained our levels of business, performance, and team spirit during the pandemic. As a firm, we proved enormously resilient and innovative throughout, and working remotely proved an important part.

“We were among the first law firms to completely embrace remote/agile working, which meant when the pandemic hit, we were able to cope with the strains which proved so hard for other firms and companies.

“Taking two floors in Capital Square in the heart of Edinburgh is a visible statement of our commitment in that regard. There is space for around 75% of our staff at any one time; so there will be no three-line whip in terms of staff returning to the workplace full-time.”

As full-time chair, Mr Geddes says he will become the “external face of the firm, drive and lead its strategic aims and ensure the firm is operating properly and efficiently”.

Mr Geddes says the legal profession has changed dramatically compared to earlier in his career. “It’s modernising, engaging with the very latest technology to better serve clients. We have moved from being consulted only when something needs verified or a statutory process completed, or when a client is in trouble – to a place where a lawyer must be infinitely more proactive in leading honest conversations about how best they can meet and hopefully exceed client expectations, on all fronts.

“Today, legal expertise is a given; the letter of the law will be taken care of. The difference between good and great lawyers, is being able to develop and nurture relationships.

“If the property industry is about ‘location, location, location,’ the legal profession in 2023 is about ‘relationships, relationships, relationships’ – and Anderson Strathern is very good at that.”

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