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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > Scotland > Private client > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Agriculture and estates

Index of tables

  1. Agriculture and estates
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Agriculture and estates clients in Scotland using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


A market leader, with a great depth of resources’, Anderson Strathern has the capacity to provide a full service to owners of estates, farms, forestry and other rural interests. It is particularly noted for its work for larger estates, which includes a long-term client relationships with the Crown Estates and the National Trust of Scotland. The practice is led by John Mitchell is ‘outstanding in his field’ and ‘always provides the highest quality of advice’ in relation to landed estates. Fiona Stephen is ‘a leading litigation solicitor’ who has extensive experience appearing before the Scottish Land Court and at the Lands Tribunal for Scotland in relation to disputed agricultural matters. Adèle Nicol is ‘well known for rural conveyancing and tenancy issues’, including complex land titles and voluntary land registration. Fiona Gibb is noted for possessing vast expertise in the acquisition, sale and management of estates and rural conveyancing, in addition to handling charitable property portfolios.

Brodies LLP's ‘first-class’ practice advises rural landed estates, farming and rural businesses, lenders, funders, developers and public sector organisations across Scotland on all corporate, commercial and litigation matters. Odell Milne provides ‘an exceptional strategic overview’, and specialises in compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) and utility work. ‘Efficient, intelligent and good under pressure’, Kirsty Macpherson focuses on rural renewable energy matters.  Alex Buchan has ‘a commercial outlook’ and particular sector knowledge in commercial rural estates. Noted for her ‘great attention to detail in transactions’, Kate McLeish advises clients on a range of agricultural holdings. The group advised the GFG Alliance on the $330m acquisition of eight Estates, which involved an extensive review of agricultural and renewables leases, grazing and residential tenancies. In another highlight, it assisted the Litchfield Family with the sale of the whole issued share capital of Tulchan Sporting Estates to a Russian businessman, in a transaction that was affected by land ownership reform and a high level of public scrutiny. Clive Philips leads the practice.

Gillespie Macandrew LLP has an extensive track record in island, land and rural business matters, including succession issues, complex estate, farm and forestry transactions, estate restructuring, complex ownership, crofting and renewable energy projects. The practice is led by Robert Scott-Dempster, whose clients include a number of major Scottish estates. Fraser Leslie is routinely called on to advise on option agreements, leases and the related land aspects of onshore renewable projects. Mike Blair has experience in sporting rights, business structures and environmental issues. Alan White handles a broad range of issues particular to Scotland, including crofting rights.

Turcan Connell’s team is led by Jonathan Robertson and has ‘fantastic knowledge of agricultural legal matters’, including farm and estate transactions, agricultural tenancies, diversification, land reform, renewables, minerals and development. Recent highlights include advising a major land owner on granting options to take leases relating to minerals development, and the construction of the associated processing and storage facilities. Grierson Dunlop is noted for providing ‘an excellent level of service in relation to complex development programs on large estates’. Don Mcleod assists clients with crofting law and the commercial development of croft land. Louise Johnston has particular expertise in the new Scottish voluntary land registration legislation.

The team at Blackadders LLP provides an ‘efficient and effective’ service to rural and agricultural clients across the spectrum of contentious and non-contentious work, including renewables, succession planning, property matters and tenancies. Petra Grunenburg leads the practice and has a particular strength in rural and commercial conveyancing matters. Legal director Gail Clarke is noted for employing ‘a highly professional approach’ and acts for a number of national and international forestry investment clients. Highlights included advising a major bank on the security relative to the purchase of five farms in north east Scotland and assisting a family farming partnership on the purchase of a farm near Dundee. Aberdeen-based Ellen Eunson made partner in April 2018.

Ledingham Chalmers LLP is steeped in agricultural law, and maintains a presence at Thainstone Agricultural Centre and Stirling Marts. The firm advises the range of rural businesses on all matters pertaining to land holdings and estates, in addition to more niche areas, such as sporting and fishing rights, equestrian law and crofting. ‘Friendly and efficient’ Hazel Moir co-leads the practice alongside Jim Drysdale. ‘Knowledgeable’ Catherine Bury is noted for handling rural transactional work, whilst ‘considerably experienced’ Stirling-based legal director Linda Tinson has a particular focus on succession planning, and land purchase, building on a her farming background.

Lindsays  has particular expertise in the rural property sector, in addition to general agricultural and renewables matters. Recent highlights for practice head, Michael Yellowlees include advising a Canadian client on their appointment as lieutenant of a clan chief in Canada and the process required to confirm the appointment. Lauren Cook assisted the Argyll Estates with a dispute concerning crofting and grazing rights around a loch. Andrew Linehan advised the Kibble Family on the sale of Falahill Farm, which included a major renewable energy installation and a particularly complex land title, to English buyers.

Shepherd and Wedderburn’s team stands out for its ability to ‘speak a language that agricultural clients understand’ in its advice on a variety of complex rural matters that includes transactional work, in addition to business support and renewable energy projects. Peter Misselbrook leads the practice and acts for a number of large estate owners and farmers, with a particular expertise on hunting matters. Misselbrook advised the Invercauld Estates on the sale of one of its grouse moors, in a transaction that involved an amendment and re-grant of the client’s sporting agreement and issues regarding access and overlapping historic estate titles. ‘KnowledgeableRichard Leslie advised the Lothian Family Trust on the sale of agricultural land in the Scottish Borders, which required contractual arrangements to safeguard a Roman road on the estate. Hugh Smith is assisting Brookfield Renewable with securing Option Agreements over potential compensatory planting areas in order to comply with Scottish Forestry Commission obligations. The team expanded in April 2017 with the recruitment of Hamish Lean from Stronachs LLP, who is recommended for his ‘strength in finding practical solutions’.

Thorntons Law LLP handles the full range of matters faced by rural businesses, including estate and farm purchases, sales, leases, security work and renewables projects. The team is led by Kenneth Mackay, who has extensive experience in rural property law, advising a mixture of private individuals, small, medium and large agricultural businesses and local authorities. Linsey Barclay-Smith, whose practice includes rural property, renewable energy and public sector work, is noted for her ability to ‘manage and delegate work to ensure prompt service’. Christopher Lindley has ‘an excellent all round knowledge of agricultural law and its application’ and leads on agricultural security matters.

Davidson Chalmers Stewart’s practice is particularly recommended for matters pertaining to renewables and waste management. Andy Drane leads the team and is particularly experienced in advising rural businesses on farm diversification, family disputes, energy projects and the disposal of land for development. Drane is currently assisting RJ Tyser Overseas Settlement with its disposal of a housing development site of around 250 units to Barratt Homes, in the first phase of a larger development. Laura Tainsh and Stuart Duncan are advising the Dunrobin Highland Distillery on developing distillery facilities and a visitor centre within the Dunrobin Castle estate, in a deal that includes complex lease agreements that meet the specific land-use needs of the client. Sheila Webster is acting for a group of several tenant farmers in a high profile judicial review, which seeks compensation from the Scottish Government following the introduction of legislation that has affected property rights in farming partnerships.

Harper Macleod LLP advises a mixture of farming, forestry (the Forestry Commission Scotland is a long-standing client) and estate clients, which it provides ‘a very good level of service’ in connection with transactional matters, estate management, diversification and agricultural disputes. Community ownership is another focus, and the firm has acted in a number of rural community buy-outs. The team is led by Graeme Nisbet who continues to represent the firm’s institutional rural clients on a variety of acquisitions, disposals and leases, in addition to the delivery of key projects. Calum MacLeod has particular experience in land reform and community ownership and recently acted for the Garbh Allt Community Initiative in its purchase of West Helmsdale Estate, which included elements of crofting law. Associate Lynne Stevenson is praised for providing ‘clear and pragmatic solutions’.

The ‘strong’ team at Morton Fraser is led by James Rust, who is ‘a first class leader with superb attention to detail’ and is supported by senior associate and ‘up and coming legal wizard’, Gail Watt. The group’s primary focus is transactional matters, although it also advises land owners, landed estates, farmers, charities, public sector organisations on all aspects of agricultural and rural legal issues, including property, estate management, crofting law, tenancies, equine and livestock law. It is currently advising the Scottish Wildlife Trust on a number of renewable energy projects, including the establishment of a community-based hydro-electric joint venture scheme. It is also assisting Scottish Natural Heritage with its major registration project in connection with the Land Register of Scotland.

Charities and not-for-profit

Index of tables

  1. Charities and not-for-profit
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Charities and not-for-profit clients in Scotland using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


Brodies LLP provides ‘excellent and practical advice’ to a mixture of individual philanthropy clients, family foundations, in addition to large corporate and institutional charities. Drawing on its ‘strong understanding of the regulatory sector’, the group is well versed in the use of corporate vehicles to establish charitable organisations, including community benefit societies, community interest companies and Scottish charitable incorporate organisations (SCIOs). The group continues to advise the OSCR on a range of matters, including all aspects of the appointment of a judicial factor to Scotia Aid Sierra Leone (a charity accused of fraud and financial mismanagement). It also assisted JustRight Scotland with the establishment of a new human rights law and advocacy centre in Glasgow. The practice is co-led by Brenda Scott, whose focuses are corporate governance, constitution reform and charity trustee duties, and the ‘dynamic and highly specialistAlan Eccles, who is noted for possessing ‘an encyclopaedic knowledge of charity law across all the UK jurisdictions’. ‘Safe pair of hands’ Helen Kidd and charitable trust expert Eric Galbraith are also recommended.

Experts in their field’, Burness Paull LLP’s team is most known for developing corporate legal structures (including innovative partnership models), consortium structures and charity mergers, for the spectrum of small and large charitable organisations. Clients include major housing trusts and a number of local authority offshoot charities, operating culture and leisure facilities. Noted for his ‘gravitas and excellent all-round knowledge’, Stephen Philips assisted Renfrewshire Council with setting up a dedicated delivery vehicle for the UK City of Culture designation, encompassing local government legislation, charity law, procurement law and state aid. Phillips also advised Sustrans on the formal offer of grant funding to Glasgow City Council to cover half of the eligible costs towards the design and construction of a cycle path infrastructure project. The ‘highly rated’ Gillian Harkness is recommended for her expertise in charity structures and M&A. Graeme Palmer was promoted to partner in August 2017.

Turcan Connell handles the full range of charity and philanthropy matters, with an emphasis on advising clients in the education, heritage, culture and arts sectors. The group also has expertise in advising charities on regulatory inquiries by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), as well as risk and governance issues. The practice is led by Gavin McEwan, who advised the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Scottish Academy Foundation on a review and reorganisation of a series of historic benevolent and endowment funds. McEwan is also assisting the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh with a number of major transactions, including a major land purchase, and Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland on a high-profile rebranding and a review of its constitution and governance following the Foundation’s severance from Lloyds Banking Group. Simon MacKintosh and senior associate Kenneth Pinkerton are other key practitioners.

Gillespie Macandrew LLP’s ‘pragmatic’ team leverages its credible corporate and commercial offerings to advise a wide range of prominent charities on the spectrum of structural and operational matters. It also handles contentious work. Clients include a number of military charities, social impact investment vehicles, and rural and landowning charitable organisations. The group is  assisting Poppyscotland with various issues, including the protection of its intellectual property, the assumption of other charitable funds, and its media relations. Christopher Smith continues to advise the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust on the establishment of a $15m Social Impact fund. Legal director Lianne Lodge leads the practice, and has particular expertise in the establishment of Scottish charitable foundations and the relationship between landed charities with trading subsidiaries.

Lindsays’ multidisciplinary team is noted for combining ‘legal expertise with a deep understanding of governance and the charity sector’. It advises a broad range of third sector clients on charity law contracts, corporate, property, litigation and employment matters. Practice head Alastair Keatinge stands out for providing ‘clear and pragmatic advice, built on his detailed practical experience as a charities lawyer’; he is advising Carnegie UK Trust on the establishment of an affordable credit fund, to be operated by Social Investment Scotland, and related loan arrangements. Keatinge also assisted with the establishment of Amaloidosis Research Consortium in Scotland, which will support a large American medical research charity. Ben Doherty has experience advising charitable organisations on employment matters.

Shepherd and Wedderburn provides a full service to charity clients, most notably in the education sector, including a number of universities and independent schools, which it advises on employment and pensions matters, in addition to more traditional corporate charity work. Constitution and governance expert Malcolm Rust and Christopher McGill (who is ‘very knowledgeable’ in the area of estates and legacies) lead the practice. Rust’s highlights included advising the founders on the establishment of the Chaffinch Trust and the trustees of a major educational trust on the creation of a new charitable entity, which included a new and less restrictive constitution, to allow for the transfer of assets and an easier amendment process. The ‘excellentNeil Maclean often advises charities on employment law.

Anderson Strathern’s team is noted for its ‘speedy and responsive service and good awareness of its client’s needs’ in addition to possessing ‘good knowledge of OSCR requirements’. The firm advises charitable organisations across a range of sectors, including renewable entities, royal charter bodies, educational endowments, universities and SCIOs. ‘Personable’ senior associate Victoria Simpson heads the practice, which includes the ‘extremely helpfulJohn Kerr. The group is advising a major UK charitable trust on updates to its policies and procedures, including a data protection audit and its investment requirements for Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and Common Reporting Standard (CRS) self-certification. Other highlights included assisting a Scottish housing association with a key tenant scheme, as well as corporate charity issues.

Balfour+Manson LLP is particularly noted for its work with faith organisations, but its clients comprise a broad range of established charities and individuals or groups setting up new charitable organisations. The ‘responsive and technically knowledgeable’ team handles both non-contentious matters (including property, constitution, governance and re-organisations) and contentious work such as regulatory inquiries and investigations. Practice head, Hugh Angus recently advised a number of religious organisations in connection with major reorganisations and charitable status applications for various local churches. Alan Gilfillan  (who is rated for his ‘first-class’ knowledge of charity law) advised on the registration of a charity following a merger, as well as on the cessation of a joint charitable venture and constitutional issues relating to the high-profile disaffiliation of a religious community. Clients include the Samaritans and the Scottish National Institution for War Blinded.

BTO Solicitors LLP advises a broad range of clients on their transition to charitable status, as well as on governance and day-today- charitable operations, reorganisation applications to the OSCR, and regulatory matters. Karen Brodie and practice head Patrice Fabien supported Southside Housing Association with its application for Big Lottery funding for a new community hub project, and on several other governance and procurement matters. Jeremy Glen assisted the Peter Vardy Foundation with the incorporation and registration of a new SCIO. David Hoey handled the University of Strathclyde Students’ Association’s transformation into an incorporated company structure. Associate Marion Davis is recommended for her expertise in charity structures, governance and regulatory issues.

MacRoberts LLP is praised for its ‘excellent level of service and quality of advice, and for its solutions-focused approach’. The firm is singled out for its knowledge of public law, procurement, grants, tax, IPR and GDPR matters, and charity law and regulation. Practice head Valerie Surgenor focuses on governance, charitable fundraising and commercial contracting. Public procurement expert Duncan Osler advises a number of charities and social enterprises on their arrangements with government agencies and local authorities. The group assisted the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland with governance and fundraising related compliance, including a full GDPR audit. It continues to handle constitutional matters and trustee training for 18 separate People’s Postcode Lottery trusts in Scotland. Robin Fallas is also recommended.

Adrian Bell leads Morton Fraser’s third sector practice, which assists a variety of Scottish charities and not-for-profit organisations, predominantly in the education, healthcare, arts, culture, sport and environment sectors. The group has a niche in advising newly elected local councillors, appointed to charity boards by local authorities, on their role and duties. Highlights included handling multiple matters for a major aid charity and European Development funding recipient, including commercial contacts, governance and issues arising from Brexit. It has also assisted a number of clients on incorporation as an SCIO, and issues arising out of the transfers.

T C Young has extensive expertise in social housing, in addition to community ownership and regeneration charities, for which it handles a variety of issues, including alterations to legal and governance structures, securing limited liability status, mergers, joint ventures and other strategic partnerships. The practice is led by the ‘very approachable and knowledgeable’ Mark Ewing, who is praised for providing advice that ‘effectively balances the charity’s legal obligations with its business requirements’. Ewing is advising the Tiree Community Development Trust on the donation of a significant community asset from another charity, which involves the creation of a bespoke legal structure and extensive due diligence. He is also advising the Iona Community on general legal advice, including fundraising appeal queries, state aid and the possibility of lease arrangements. Christine Stuart is another key practitioner, with experience in constitutional and governance issues, regulatory frameworks, commercial contracts and procurement issues.

The 'high-quality’ team at CMS provides the full range of services to clients in the third sector, particularly educational and research establishments that require advice on charities law, regulatory and financial charity matters. The ‘pragmatic and results-focused’ Graeme Bruce leads the team and specialises in constitutional and corporate governance issues, charity restructuring, setting up charities and registrations. Bruce handles a broad range of charity issues for the recently established Newlands Junior College. Chris Rae (who is ‘efficient and always happy to assist’) is advising Marie Curie on asset management matters, including lease renewals, in addition to tax advice connected to the organisation’s charitable status. He is also assisting Bernardo’s with the establishment of a new vulnerable youth housing enterprise in Scotland.

Harper Macleod LLP’s team applies its ‘expert knowledge’ to the range of regulatory, commercial and constitutional charity law matters. The group is well known for advising small, community-based organisations and a vast number of Scottish registered social landlords, in addition to larger municipal and arms-length external charitable organisations. The ‘approachable and clear’ James McMorrow leads the team, which includes the ‘very commercial’ Jennifer Jack and solicitor Kelly Sleight, whose expertise includes SCIOS, community interest companies, as well as data protection matters. The group is instructed by retailTRUST to advise on a variety of commercial contracts, employment, construction and corporate matters; it is currently assisting the client with an amendment of its charitable objects. In another highlight, it is providing in-house legal support to Wheatley Housing Group in relation to a range of regulatory and governance issues. Other clients include the Highland Rugby Football Club and the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice.

Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP advises a broad range of healthcare and education sector charities, trade associations, social enterprises and grant-giving organisations, in addition to handling charitable matters for philanthropic individuals, including the establishment and running of foundations. Highlights included assisting Glasgow City Heritage Trust with a review of its constitution and the Grocer Company of Glasgow with constitutional updates that reflected the spirit of the original document. The group also advises Scottish Women’s Institutes on various corporate matters pertaining to its operations in Scotland. Colin Millar and Graham Murray  are the key contacts.

Contentious trusts and probate

Index of tables

  1. Contentious trusts and probate
  2. Leading individuals

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Contentious trusts and probate clients in Scotland using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


Brodies LLP’s ‘outstanding team’ is ‘a market leader’ that demonstrates ‘cutting-edge technical knowledge’. The team handles a broad spectrum of work, including applications to the Court of Session, proving the tenor of lost wills, assisting adults with incapacity applications, negligence opinions and disputes over will validity and the winding up of estates. The team recently represented the wife of a deceased high-net-worth individual, who left an informal will, in a dispute over the estate. ‘ExceptionalAlan Barr leads the practice and brings a ‘sympathetic approach’ to family trustees, noted for an ability to ‘stand firm on particularly difficult issues’. Barr is a thought leader in wills, tax planning and trusts, and has extensive experience in related contentious matters. The ‘professionalMark Stewart and associate Angela McCulloch are recommended for their client relationship building skills. Susanne Batchelor is another key practitioner.

Morton Fraser handles high-value and complicated executry and probate disputes, often obtaining interim orders on an urgent basis. The team acts for executors, trustees and estate beneficiaries seeking interim suspension and interdict orders, in addition to seeking the reduction of wills, codicils and other testamentary documents. The practice is jointly led by litigator Richard McMeeken and private client lawyer Sue Hunter, who has an impressive roster of UK-based and international clients, with particular links to Hong Kong. Graham Scott, head of the estate planning team, is experienced in a variety of contentious trust and executry matters.

Turcan Connell’s team specialises in private client litigation and covers the full range of disputes in relation to private clients, family businesses and disputes over inheritance entitlements. It defends and pursues a variety of high-value executry actions, often involving family partnerships. The team is led by experienced private client litigator, Peter Littlefield , whose focus is complex issues arising out of estates and post-death tax planning, as well as the application of Scots succession law to charitable organisations. David Ogilvy has significant expertise in property disputes, including arbitrations and contractual disputes in the Sheriff Court. The group is currently representing a beneficiary in connection with a dispute over the authenticity of their father’s will. Other key mandates included representing a trust in a claim for damages against the Scottish government arising out of an alleged breach of the ECHR in relation to the Scottish Agricultural Holdings Act, which ordered a landlord to arrange their affairs in a particular manner to comply with legislation that was subsequently found unlawful by the Supreme Court.

Anderson Strathern has developed a ‘significant’ contentious private client practice that advises entrepreneurs, businesses, families and individuals on the range of work, including reductions of confirmation, challenges to wills and challenges to executors. It also handles a variety of contentious executry matters. John Peutherer, who leads the practice, specialises in legal rights, testamentary intent, will interpretation and has particular experience in cross-border matters. Katrina Lumsdaine represented the successful party in a complex contentious executry dispute in which executors tried to recover money contributed to the home in which a cohabiting and subsequently separated couple had resided; leading to a dismissal of the action. ‘Hardworking and reliable’ senior associate Gary Burton is also recommended.

Gillespie Macandrew LLP’s contentious private client practice works closely with the firm’s dispute resolution team, and has a niche in land and rural business disputes concerning tax, estates and trusts. The group is also experienced in the removal of executors, proving the tenor of a will, legal rights and breach of duty claims. Agnes Mallon heads the practice, drawing on specialist knowledge of judicial factories and dealing with contentious executry administration, sometimes with a cross-border element. John Stirling handled a claim by the former wife of a high profile individual under an English Court settlement against the estate of her former husband. John McArthur is another key contact, with a focus on tax and succession disputes.

Murray Beith Murray has ‘a competent’ cross-departmental team of litigators, which deals with the spectrum of contentious trust and probate work. Carole Hope, who has ‘excellent technical knowledge and experience’ in contentious matters, has ‘a particular strength in spotting the key issues’ and ‘cutting through the nonsense’. Andrew Paterson leads the practice, and is ‘a pragmatic and forward thinking lawyer’. Hugh Younger is noted for his ‘good client skills’. The group stands out for its ‘substantial experience’ in dealing with high net-worth individuals and complicated executry estates, including those with businesses or agricultural interests. It also has notable expertise in dealing with matters arising from foreign assets.

Shepherd and Wedderburn offers ‘an outstanding level of service’ to clients engaged in trust and probate disputes. ‘IncisiveChristopher McGill ‘clearly has a strong breadth of knowledge and an impressive level of professionalism’ and co-leads the practice alongside the head of commercial disputes, Guy Harvey. The group acts for private individuals and trustees, as well as institutional clients in a wide range of disputes and associated professional negligence actions and contentious private tax matters. Alastair Frood is advising siblings on the interpretation of a clause in their late father’s will, in relation to the wishes of another sibling, the eldest son who inherited the estate, to sell the property for development. Elaine Brailsford is acting on behalf of a partner in a farming business in a complex family dispute.


Index of tables

  1. Family
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • John West - SKO

Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Family clients in Scotland using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


Absolutely brilliant, clever, knowledgeable, human and responsive’, the team at SKO is ‘at the cutting edge of family law’. Its work includes handling major international maintenance cases and acted in the first contentious case under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act in Scotland (a matter led by Robert Gilmour). The group also has a significant practice catering specifically to LGBTI individuals; with vast experience in related human rights and Equality Act issues, civil partnership dissolution, gender recognition, adoption, surrogacy and reproduction cases. In addition, the team advised on the first same-sex divorce case in the UK. The ‘doyenne of Scots family lawyers’, practice head Rachael Kelsey (noted as a ‘force of nature’) is particularly known for her presence in cross-border and international family cases. Susan Oswald continues to advise various county councils in England and Wales on the recognition and enforcement of proposed deprivation of liberty orders, which has implications under Scots law. John West is ‘building a stellar reputation in the field’ and regularly receives instructions from English leading and junior counsel in relation to Scottish and European law issues. Alison Edmondson is a specialist family mediator, but is also well regarded for her expertise in work for vulnerable adults, as well as tax and capacity issues. Clients include NSPCC and the Scottish Government.

The ‘absolutely top-end team’ at Brodies LLP is noted for its family law work, including high-value and high-profile divorce cases, as well as multi-jurisdictional aspects and ‘forum shopping’ cases. The group also cases involving international child abduction and has expertise in European regulations pertaining to maintenance. Lisa Girdwood is ‘hugely experienced and able’ and has ‘a caring manner with clients’. Also recommended are ‘master tacticianScott Cochrane, Richard B Smith, who focuses on divorce cases involving business owners has ‘a pleasant and pragmatic approach’, and Shaun George, who heads the practice.

Morton Fraser has a broad practice, which covers financial provision, international and English family law, child support, preventive advice, international child abduction work, family mediation and arbitration. The group, which is noted for going ‘above and beyond’, is led by the ‘hugely experienced’ Rhona Adams, who has ‘an air of calm authority’. Adams specialises in complex financial provision work, often with cross-border or international elements. Lucia Clark has ‘superb technical knowledge’ and an ‘analytical approach’, which she also applies to financial provision work. Fiona Sasan is noted for always ‘fighting her client’s corner’ in cases involving business interests and their disentanglement in divorce cases. ‘Perceptive’ consultant, Savita Sharma handles a number of intra-UK child cases, in which complex jurisdictional issues arise between Scots and English law. Recent highlights include advising various English local authorities on 50 related public law cases, involving children in England who were being detained in Scottish secure accommodation as a result of an English court order.

Turcan Connell’s ‘extremely strong group’ has a particular focus on complex work for high-net-worth individuals and negotiations of financial settlements that avoid litigation. The firm’s broader practice adds value to the family law team in terms of business valuations, pension sharing, tax and trusts. In addition to divorce mandates, the firm also handles cohabitation issues, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, child law cases (including international relocation), adoption and surrogacy. Dual qualified in Scots and English law, practice head Gillian Crandles is ‘in the very top category of family lawyers in Scotland’. She has ‘an excellent manner with clients’ and acts for a wide variety of Scottish professional individuals facing matrimonial and cohabitation issues. ‘PragmaticAlasdair Loudon has notable expertise in international divorces. Lindsey Ogilvie, who was promoted to partner in April 2018, is the firm’s child specialist, but is also recommended for her work on complex financial issues. Senior solicitor Zaynab Al Nasser, whose attention to detail is ‘second to none’, is another key contact.

Balfour+Manson LLP’s ‘very experienced and hard-working’ team handle all aspects of family law, drawing on experience in cross-border matters and the firm’s wider private client expertise. Practice head Shona Smith, who gives ‘sensible and clear advice’, often handles negotiated settlements in the Sheriff Court and Court of Session. Kirsten Knight’s practice encompasses divorce, cohabitation, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, child-related disputes and adoptions. ‘Experienced beyond his years’, Jamie Foulis advises clients on the spectrum of non-contentious family matters. Associate Iain Thomson is recommended for his ‘quick-wittedness’ and ‘impressive familiarity with the Court of Session’.

Blackadders LLP is ‘a particularly good Central Belt firm’ that handles complicated financial disputes, in addition to the full range of family work. The practice is led by Craig Samson, who is ‘a formidable lawyer and really strong negotiator’. He specialises in financial claims arising out of separation and divorce, sometimes with cross-border and jurisdictional aspects. John Mitchell has ‘considerable litigation experience’ and specialises in handling family disputes in and out of court. The ‘brilliantGareth Masson handles a substantial amount of civil court matters, financial provision, child law, adoption and permanency orders.

The ‘strong’ family team at BTO Solicitors LLP handles family disputes, surrogacy, children’s referrals, international adoptions and high-value settlements. The group also has expertise family matters involving data protection, revenge porn, reputation management, harassment and domestic abuse. The group is led by the ‘empathetic’ Lesley Gordon, who provides clients with ‘direct and strategic advice’ on the range of financial issues arising from the formation and breakdown of relationships, particularly involving high-net-worth individuals. She is also an experienced family arbitrator and mediator. ‘Collaborative’ associate Marjory Blair focuses on issues involving children, and is particularly noted for handling cases involving child protection and domestic abuse.

Harper Macleod LLP has significant experience in cases involving the relocation of children, financial provision, cohabitation, pre- and post-nuptial agreements. It also handles English law and cross-border mandates. The practice is led by the ‘highly knowledgeable’ Amanda Masson, who is a specialist in family and child law, as well as family mediation. Although experienced in non-contentious work, she also acts for clients in the Court of Session and Sheriff Courts. Masson acted alongside ‘dedicated’ associate Claire Christie in a complex relocation case. Jenny Smith, who joined from Family Law Matters Scotland LLP, is dual Scots and English qualified, and has a particular interest in financial provision cases.

Lindsays has ‘a solid team with a good knowledge of family law matters’. The group handles complex financial provision cases, child law (including adoption and permanence orders, cross-border and jurisdictional work. It also has considerable experience in Court of Session and Sheriff Court litigation, which stands alongside its alternative dispute resolution practice. On the non-contentious side, the team handles nuptial and cohabitation agreements, rural matters, Hague Convention work and surrogacy. Alison McKee leads the practice and has particular expertise in international child abduction cases, in addition to collaborative family law. Jennifer Gallagher stands out for ‘excellent technical knowledge’, as well as possessing ‘the confidence to run cases and take decisions herself, where appropriate’. The ‘sensible and practicalDuncan Mackinnon is a child law specialist and is noted for his ‘great rapport’ with children. ‘Approachable, sympathetic and intellectually able’ legal director Lucy Metcalf has an excellent track record in court, which she combines with ‘well-developed soft-skills’.

MacRoberts LLP’s team was greatly bolstered by two new arrivals from Shoosmiths in September 2017: Marika Franceschi, who ‘instils confidence in clients’, and senior associate Karen Nicol. ‘Empathetic and clearJacqueline Stroud leads the team, which advises clients on the full range of family matters, including divorce, mediation, child law, international matters, nuptial agreements, cohabitation and adoption. Recent highlights include a number of divorces involving high value and overseas assets. ‘Professional’ senior associate Fiona Sharp is also recommended.

Morisons LLP has ‘an extremely knowledgeable and reliable’ family law department, which is most known for its expertise in complex child law matters, including Hague Convention and child abduction cases. ‘Hugely experienced’ Alasdair Docwra leads the team, and has extensive experience in resolving child matters via a collaborative approach. He is frequently called upon to prepare reports for the Edinburgh Sheriff Court in child cases. Associate Rachael MacDonald, whose advocacy skills are ‘excellent’, is ‘one to watch’; she is noted for working ‘tirelessly’ in service of her clients, and is noted for her specialist expertise in cases involving international child abduction.

MTM Family Law has particular expertise in collaborative law, with a particular focus on family mediation and arbitration. The group assists a range of high-profile individuals reach often complex financial settlements. It handles cases involving child care arrangements in addition to surrogacy, pre-nuptial agreements and cohabitation disputes. The team is led by founding partner Shona Templeton, who leads on alternative dispute resolution, also has extensive litigation experience in the Sheriff Court. Carolyn McBride  has expertise in complex financial provision. Caroline Henderson focuses on surrogacy matters.

Patience and Buchan is noted as ‘the best family law practice in Aberdeen’. The team (which is ‘professional to the core’) specialises in high-value cases and child-related issues. Founding partner, Lorna Buchan is ‘hugely formidable’ in court, and has extensive experience in the financial and child aspects of divorce and family law matters. Highlights for Buchan included acting for a husband in complex divorce proceedings, in which his wife refused to enter into negotiations about a jointly-owned property, leading to a successful action for its division and sale. ‘A strong performer and tough litigator’, Ashley Simpson is particularly knowledgeable in disputes arising from cohabitation. Associate Gillian Smith is also recommended for disputes involving children and international relocation.

Aberdein Considine has added two new partners to its family team: April Campbell joined in August 2018 and Karl Brown joined from Murray and Brown in November 2017. The group, which provides ‘good advice at a reasonable price’ handles separations (including financial and child-related issues), contentious and non-contentious aspects of divorce, child law matters, child maintenance, adoption, civil partnerships and pre-nuptial agreements. The practice is led by Ruth Aberdein, who specialises in high-value divorce and separation cases, and has expertise in alternative dispute resolution methods. The ‘highly intelligent and diligentIsabelle Douglas is ‘thorough and empathetic to the overall situation of separation’; she has particular expertise in financial provision and child-related matters. Naeema Sajid's focus is guardianship issues, although she also has extensive experience in contentious court proceedings.

Anderson Strathern has a strength in handling financial provision, divorce and child-related matters. It also has experience in nuptial agreements, permanence orders, cohabitation claims and residence disputes. ‘Highly organised and approachable’ practice head Janice Jones has ‘an ability to explain complicated legal concepts’; she acts for a number of high-profile individuals in often complex divorce cases. Senior associate Ann-Marie Chalmers, who joined the practice after the firm’s merger with Jeffrey Aitken in April 2017, focuses on divorce work and nuptial agreements. Associate David Coutts is noted as ‘rapidly building a good reputation’, particularly in the area of child law. He is ‘an excellent negotiator, with good legal knowledge and communication skills’.

BLM’s ‘very experienced team’ stands out for its ‘in-depth knowledge’ in high-net-worth matrimonial cases and child welfare. Recent highlights include a number of complex financial provision cases that involve family-owned businesses and the division of assets. The team is co-led by Siobhan Kelly (‘at the very top of her game’ and ‘passionate about the client’s best interest’) and ‘formidableCaroline Gillespie , who deals with a broad range of family, child and matrimonial cases, with particular expertise in international child relocation and cohabitation.

Digby Brown LLP’s ‘experienced’ team is noted for providing ‘an excellent level of service’. Practice head Roger McKenzie stands out for his work in financial provision cases, and for developing the firm’s traditional area of practice, adoption work. Highlights included representing the wife in a high-value and complex divorce case at the Court of Session, which involved outside expertise to determine the true value of the husband’s niche business interest, and internationally-based assets.

T C Young has a ‘highly experienced’ team that deals with all aspects of family law. It is most noted for its ability to deal with child-related work, including Hague Convention and cross-border contact issues. Practice family law head in Glasgow Lynne Collingham is an alternative dispute resolution expert and ‘works hard towards reaching settlements’ in divorce and separation cases, often involving complex financial provision. Grant Knight leads the family law department in Edinburgh, and is regularly appointed by Edinburgh Sheriff Court to act as Curator ad litem for children in family actions. He specialises in children’s referrals, adoptions and permanence orders. Also in Edinburgh, Vicky Lewis , whose tactical awareness is ‘second-to-none’, focuses on financial provision arrangements.

Thorntons Law LLP is regularly instructed in matters across the spectrum of family law, including divorce, separation, child and cohabitation disputes, civil partnership dissolutions and nuptial agreements. After the retirement of Stephen Brand in May 2018, Amanda Wilson leads the practice and is ‘a very highly regarded, natural successor’; she specialises in collaborative dispute resolution. Graham Harding is a child law expert, and regularly called upon as a child welfare reporter and Curator ad litem in permanence and adoption cases at Perth Sheriff Court. Associate Lynne Sturrock is another key contact.

Personal tax, trusts and executries

Index of tables

  1. Personal tax, trusts and executries
  2. Leading individuals

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Brodies LLP’s ‘well-resourced and experienced’ team is ‘at the top of its game’, and adept at handling tax and estate planning matters for wealthy individuals and families and smaller value clients alike. It also has extensive expertise in the establishment of Family Investment Companies (FICs) and Family Limited Partnerships (FLPs); work that ‘extremely knowledgeableSusanne Batchelor is noted for, alongside her extensive cross-border asset practice. Mark Stewart leads the personal and family department while Alan Barr heads the personal tax planning group, which includes a number of chartered accountants. Other key practitioners include Norman Kennedy, who specialises in succession planning, asset protection, inheritance tax mitigation, trusts and incapacity planning; Alan Eccles, a ‘trusted adviser’ who is known for advising individuals, families, charities and family business on trust matters; and associate Leigh Gould.

Turcan Connell's wide-ranging trust and tax expertise encompasses succession planning and other issues concerning high-net-worth individuals and families. The group, which comprises a number of chartered tax advisers, is particularly noted for inheritance tax planning matters. Recent highlights include offshore structure reorganisations and the establishment of various FICs and FLPs; work that included advice on tax, asset protection and assistance with asset structuring. The tax and succession group is led by the ‘efficient and likableAlexander Garden, whose knowledge of tax and trusts is ‘first-rate’. ‘Shrewd operatorPaul Macaulay stands out for his ‘ability to communicate complex issues clearly’ and assists private clients, family businesses and landowners with capital taxation and estate planning, with a particular focus on inheritance and capital gains tax planning. Alix Storrie is also recommended for her expertise in wills, and the complex issues that arise out of landed estates, including claims for reliefs.

Anderson Strathern’s team handles the spectrum of private client tax work for a number of Scotland’s wealthiest individuals and families. The group advises clients on tax, trusts and heritage property, including major conditional exemption claims for submission to HMRC. The group also has particular expertise in asset protection for personal injury awards and adults with incapacity. Dual Scots and English law qualified Carole Tomlinson leads the team and specialises in capital tax planning and heritage relief advice. Colin Henderson acts as lead partner in various matters concerning high net-worth Scottish families, whom he assists with asset protection and wealth management. Martin Campbell and consultant John Biggar are recommended for trust work. David Campbell joined the team from Balfour+Manson LLP in May 2017, and has a niche in the establishment and administration of personal injury trusts.

Gillespie Macandrew LLP focuses on providing complex succession planning and tax advice to families with businesses, land and estates, as well as handling niche issues around the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) and the Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS). Elspeth Paget leads on executry matters and specialises in working with elderly clients, while John McArthur is the head of the tax advisory and returns team, and regularly advises clients on negotiated settlements with HMRC, particularly in matters involving Agricultural and Business Property Relief. In addition to a strong contentious background, Agnes Mallon has extensive experience in complex family tax and trust mandates, often with a cross-border element. Legal director James MacKinnon is recommended for his expertise in the formation, administration and termination of trusts, and the tax implication of the use of trusts in succession planning and asset protection.

Lindsays is noted for providing ‘an exceptionally personal service, with great attention to detail’, which is ‘delivered by approachable advisers’. The team handles wills (including drafting, succession and taxation matters), powers of attorney, tax planning, trust creation and administration, executries, charitable endowments and the management of elderly clients’ financial and business affairs. The firm also has experience in estates with international components. Callum Kennedy leads the practice, advising a number of major agricultural and estate clients on tax planning and mitigation issues. Dorothy Kellas (‘professional and easy to talk to’) predominantly assists individuals and families with issues including asset protection and property matters. In addition to possessing wide-ranging experience in executries, Sandy Lamb is ‘a family business lawyer of the highest order’.

Shepherd and Wedderburn is ‘good on all accounts’ and its team is able to offer ‘a high level of personal service’. The team advises clients on high-end domestic matters such as complex wills, trusts and estate planning, and more complex matters, including multi-jurisdictional tax planning and compliance. Consultant Charles Scott joined the Aberdeen office in January 2017 alongside rural law expert Hamish Lean , greatly boosting the firm’s coverage in northeast Scotland. The ‘calm and authoritative’ Malcolm Rust leads the team, and is noted for his ‘in-depth’ understanding of private client work. Dual Scots and English law qualified Christopher McGill stands out for his work in executry matters, and regularly handles cross-border and international issues, pertaining to various Crown Dependencies, Dubai, France and Spain. ‘Sound, reliable and a pleasure to deal with’, senior associate Douglas Sinclair has particular expertise in complex UK and offshore tax matters, in addition to trust and partnership issues.

Gregor Mitchell leads Addleshaw Goddard’s team, which advises a range of clients, with a particular focus on SME entrepreneurs. Leveraging the firm’s UK-wide presence, the team handles cross-border and multi-jurisdictional mandates and matters at the crossroads between corporate and private client work. Other key figures include Douglas Hunter, who has extensive experience advising elderly clients on their estates, and legal director Euan Fleming, who specialises in trusts and estates matters. The group is advising former international rugby player, Doddie Weir, on matters relating to his trust and foundation following his diagnosis with motor neurone disease, which included the establishment of tax efficient structures, an SCIO, a discretionary trust for a vulnerable person and assistance to the trustees with charity taxation regimes.

Dentons ' team, which transferred from legacy firm, Maclay, Murray & Spens LLP, is led by Eleanor Kerr who took over from Andrew Biggart (now a consultant at the firm). The group’s primary focuses are wills, trusts, tax planning, contentious and non-contentious probate, matters concerning adults with incapacity, personal injury and charitable trusts. Alexis Graham, whose clients include a number of entrepreneurs and other high-net-worth individuals, is advising the estate of a deceased client who had a considerable shareholding, in a matter involving business property relief, a large number of lifetime gifts and complex family dynamics.

Harper Macleod LLP handles matters pertaining to domestic and foreign taxation, estate planning, trusts (including personal injury trusts), complex executries and capacity issues. Practice head Pamela Niven stands out as ‘an expert in her field’ and has a particular interest in estate and tax planning, often advising clients on issues such as potentially exempt and chargeable transfers, in addition to FICs. ‘Trust expert’ Jacqueline Leslie has vast experience in cross-border matters, and clients with complex domiciliation. ‘Highly organised’ associates Allyson Gilchrist and Susie Cowan are recommended for their ‘ability to explain legal concepts’ and ‘approachable manner’.

MacRoberts LLP’s group possesses ‘excellent strength in depth’ and advises clients on succession issues, including inheritance tax planning, executry administrations (and associated negotiations with HMRC) and preparing tax-efficient wills. The team is also experienced in the creation and administration of large trusts, including those arising from personal injury claims. Practice head Carole MacAlpine-Scott and James Inglis are noted as ‘strong technically and very personable’. MacAlpine-Scott specialises in asset protection and assisting elderly clients with tax planning. Inglis has a focus on inheritance tax planning and capital gains tax mitigation, with an emphasis on tax-efficient wills and estate planning schemes.

Murray Beith Murray’s ‘steady, prompt and sensible’ team advises clients on trusts and estates, succession planning, personal and trust taxation and property matters. The group also has expertise in executries and charitable trusts. The team is led by Peter Shand, whose clients predominantly include business owners, business families, in addition to private individuals. ‘Knowledgeable and prepared to argue his case’, Ruthven Gemmell is dual Scottish and English law qualified. Carole Hope specialises in wills and estate planning, and in looking after the affairs of elderly and vulnerable individuals. Associate Caroline Pringle is experienced in succession and tax planning matters, in addition to the creation, administration and termination of trusts. Recent highlights include a number of matters concerning internationally domiciled individuals with significant assets based in multiple jurisdictions.

Balfour+Manson LLP’s ‘exceptional’ practice often works closely with the firm’s welfare department to offer a ‘one-stop-shop for elderly clients’. The executry team handles high-value, complex cases, including those with an international dimension. The team also advises clients on the formation, management and taxation of all types of trust. ‘Absolutely trustworthy’ practice head, Shona Brown is ‘very knowledgeable’ and ‘pays tremendous attention to detail’. She specialises in will drafting, the creation and management of trusts (including personal injury trusts), succession planning, asset protection and tax mitigation. Karen Phillips, who joined the firm from Brodies LLP in June 2017, is ‘an excellent communicator and handles difficult circumstances well’. Phillips has particular expertise in advising high-net-worth clients on succession planning, inheritance and capital gains tax planning. Senior associate Margaret Ross is noted for her expertise in trusts and taxation.

Blackadders LLP provides ‘excellent value for money’ and its team possesses ‘exceptional clarity of thought and knowledge of the law and procedure surrounding professional practice and conduct issues’. Managing partner Johnston Clark is noted for his ‘approachability’, ‘legal knowledge’ and ‘genuine interest in helping others’. He has extensive experience in business succession planning, particularly in farming families. Douglas Sneddon leads the firm’s executry team and acts for a number of charitable trusts. The ‘personable and efficient’ Robert Forman is a general private client practitioner, who advises on wills, estates and the preservation of assets for elderly clients. Laura McDowall specialises in adults with incapacity, including powers of attorney, guardianship orders and financial management, acting for individuals, charities and local authorities throughout Scotland. Scott Williamson is recommended for his expertise in trust law.

BTO Solicitors LLP is rated for its ‘excellent’ client service and for providing advice that is ‘always appropriate and easily understood’. The group handles a variety of matters, including inheritance, capital gains and income tax planning, business succession planning, the establishment and administration of trusts, financial assessments for care home fees, wills, and high-value estate administration. Roddy Harrison is noted for his expertise in relation to small business tax and succession planning, and also specialises in executry administration, particularly focusing on high-value inheritance tax paying estates and complex estate distributions. The ‘friendly and empatheticRoss Brown handles a number of cross-border estate administration matters, in addition to mandates involving adults with incapacity.

Mackinnons handles wills, trusts, tax planning, in addition to matters relating to powers of attorney, guardianships and elderly client services. ‘Approachable and pragmatic’ practice head Patricia Gray is ‘technically proficient and has superb in-depth knowledge of property-related matters’. Ashleigh McConnell is noted for her ‘sensitivity in dealing with vulnerable people’ when advising on complex capacity issues.

Morton Fraser handles the spectrum of private client work, including the establishment, administration and termination of trusts, estate and tax planning. Sue Hunter leads the team, which includes Graham Scott and Robin Morton, who also leads the firm’s later life practice.

Stronachs LLP is noted as ‘very good’ in the area of personal tax, trusts and executries and comprises a number of STEP-qualified practitioners. The group specialises in estate planning for high-net-worth and entrepreneurial clients, succession planning for landed estate owners, and advising non-UK domiciled individuals on their tax affairs. The group also has extensive experience advising on incapacity issues, including the preparation of powers of attorney. The team is led by Jaclyn E.P. Russell, who was promoted to partner in June 2017. Consultant George Stevenson stands out for being ‘attentive and effective’. Associate Magnus Mackay focuses on all aspects of estate and succession planning.

Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP merged with Glasgow- and Dunblane-based firm, BMK Wilson, in May 2017, which resulted in the addition of Beth Hamilton, Rosina Dolan and Kathleen MacArthur to the private client team. The group has particular expertise in advising family businesses on asset structure, the transfer of heritable property from partnership into limited companies, wills and powers of attorney, associated tax and wealth structuring advice. It also has experience in drafting wills for high-net-worth clients, and families with complex tax requirements. Private client head Ian Macdonald is noted for giving ‘sage advice’, especially regarding trusts and inheritance tax. Graham Murray, who is a chartered tax adviser, is ‘excellent in his technical advice’ and rated for his ‘very personable approach with clients’.

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