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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 > Corporate and commercial > Corporate and commercial: Edinburgh and Glasgow > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Edinburgh and Glasgow
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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Brodies LLP, which is ‘consistently on top of what the deal requires’, acts for Scottish and UK-based clients (and those located overseas) in acquisitions and disposals, private equity investments, joint ventures, MBOs, investment fund formation and corporate restructurings, among other areas. A notable hallmark of the practice is its strengths in industries such as food and drink, manufacturing, healthcare and renewable energy. In 2016, Andrew Akintewe jointly led a cross-practice team, which acted for Aberdeen City Council in a £370m index-linked bond issue on the London Stock Exchange. In another highlight, Roger Cotton and others are advising Scottish Water Business Stream on its circa £20m acquisition of Southern Water’s non-domestic customer base. Neil Burgess acted for the owners of Matthew Algie & Company in its takeover by Tchibo Coffee Service. Shuna Stirling leads the team, which also includes Julian Voge, Eric Galbraith, William McIntosh, Grant Campbell and Karen Fountain. Managing associate Paul McLaughlin and associates Sarah Miller and Euan Tripp are other recommended individuals. Derek Stroud, who joined from Pinsent Masons LLP, has more than 25 years’ experience of corporate transactions.

Burness Paull LLP handles a full range of mandates for owner-managed businesses, PLCs and AIM-listed companies, and overseas-based corporates, among other clients. It has a particularly outstanding reputation in high-value cross-border transactions; in 2016, private equity head Mark Ellis advised Brown-Forman Corporation on its £285m acquisition of the BenRiach Distillery. In another matter, Grant Stevenson, senior associate Victoria Bryden and others acted for BlueGem Capital Partners in its acquisition of fashion retailer Jack Wills. Hattington Capital, Midlothian Capital and Kings Park Capital are among other private equity investor clients. Head of corporate finance Chris Gotts recently led the advice on Savannah Petroleum’s $40m secondary institutional placing of new ordinary shares. Peter Lawson assisted Standard Life with a series of acquisitions as part of a strategy to build out a new UK-wide financial advice business. The firm’s practice is complemented by its corporate tax strengths, which were bolstered by the key hire of Ronnie Brown from DWF.

CMS has a first-rate reputation in big-ticket transactions spanning energy, financial services, TMT and leisure, among other sectors. In the life sciences arena, Kenneth Rose, Stuart MacLean and others acted for Össur UK Holding in its £27.5m takeover of Touch Bionics. The group’s core practice is complemented by strengths in ancillary disciplines, such as tax and employment, as well as additional expertise across the firm’s wider network. In 2016, Wendy Colquhoun led the advice of a multidisciplinary team in Standard Life’s acquisition of AXA Portfolio Services from the AXA Group. In another matter, Graeme Bruce led a cross-office team (which included recently promoted partner Jack Letson) in the advice to AIM-listed InterBulk Group regarding its £95.3m cash acquisition by Den Hartogh Holding. Ian Macleod Distillers, Prestonfield Investments and Clyde Blowers Capital are other notable clients. Practice head Colin Lawrie, an expert in unregulated private equity and real estate funds, advises on fund formation, investments into funds and debt financing. Senior associate James Woodward is ‘very easy to deal with’. Also recommended are David Davidson, Laurence Ward and Michael McAuley.

Dickson Minto WS has an outstanding track record of acting for UK listed companies, global corporates, investors, family businesses and private equity houses, among other entities. The firm’s diverse workload includes domestic and cross-border corporate and private equity transactions, as well as advice on a wide ambit of other corporate and commercial issues. Bruce Minto, Colin MacNeill, Ewan Gilchrist and Andrew Todd are among the specialist partners in the team, which acted for Facebook in its acquisitions of Two Big Ears and mLED. Other highlights included advising Dunedin LLP on the sale of CitySprint via a secondary MBO, and handling Verisk Analytics’ acquisitions of The GeoInformation Group and Aurium Limited.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s wide-ranging sector expertise is brought to bear in headline transactions across a mix of Scotland-focused mandates and UK-wide transactions, as well as those with an international element. Its broad practice includes equity capital markets matters, public and private M&A, joint ventures and private equity investments. Practice head Barry McCaig recently acted for clients such as Lloyds Development Capital, West Coast Capital and Infinergy Limited. In 2016, Rosalie Chadwick assisted Total with the £585m sale of its North Sea midstream business to North Sea Midstream Partners. In another mandate, Chadwick worked with lead partner Alan Diamond, Jennifer Malcolm and Christine Yuill to handle Skyscanner’s £1.4bn takeover by Kevin Devanny is another key name, as are senior associates Brian Thumath and Kevin Beattie. Derek Stroud joined Brodies LLP.

Shepherd and Wedderburn’s clients value the firm’s ‘deep industry expertise’. Illustrative of its experience of cutting-edge, industry-transformative deals, Stephen Trombala, senior associate Tom Swan, John Morrison and Eilidh Gillanders acted for FanDuel as sole UK counsel in its merger with DraftKings. Swan ‘quietly gets on with the work without any drama’. Trombala and Morrison also handled the sale of Two Big Ears to Facebook. The ‘very commercial and pragmaticDanny Lee acts for clients in a range of sectors, such as energy, food and drink, life sciences and technology. Also recommended is George Boyle, who acted for Albion Water Group Limited in the sale of a 51% stake in Albion Water Limited to Wessex Water. Andrew Blain heads the team, which also includes Paul Hally, George Frier and senior associate Joanna Monaghan. Jack Gardiner moved to Turcan Connell.

Maclay Murray & Spens LLP has ‘a number of first-class lawyers’ who undertake high-end matters for blue-chip UK and international clients in industries such as food and beverages, financial services and retail, among others. In 2016, Brian Moore, Michael Livingston and Catriona Munro were among the key advisers to British Polythene Industries in its £261m takeover by RPC Group Plc, which was one of the largest Scottish M&A deals of the year. Moore, David McGrory and others acted for FreeAgent Holdings in its £34m AIM IPO, which was the first Scottish IPO in more than two years and the first-ever IPO of a UK crowdfunded fintech company. In other work, Derek McCombe acted for The Edinburgh Woollen Mill (Group) Limited during its £7m acquisition of the Austin Reed and Country Casuals brands from the administrators of Austin Reed. Dalmore Capital, The Edrington Group and Railways Pension Schemes are other notable clients. In addition to handling Scottish and UK cross-border deals, the firm’s membership of the Lex Mundi network sees it collaborate with law firms worldwide in international transactions. Director Donald Smith joined the firm in 2016 from BP Plc. Head of corporate Guy Norfolk divides his time between London and Edinburgh.

DLA Piper Scotland LLP undertakes high-value domestic and cross-border transactions for Scottish, UK and multinational corporates. Led by Simon Rae, the Edinburgh-based group handles a full spectrum of matters, including corporate M&A, public and private fundraisings, restructurings and joint ventures. In 2016, Rae was a key adviser in a multidisciplinary team that handled Energy Ventures’ sale of UK-based engineering and service company Meta Downhole Limited to Schlumberger. Private equity buyouts are another core pillar of the practice, and the group acts for such names as Vespa Capital and Scottish Equity Partners in some of their most significant deals; Rae advised the latter on a £9.5m series C growth capital co-investment (alongside Grafton Capital and Draper Esprit) in flash sales website SportPursuit. Legal director Andrew Wardrop is also recommended.

DWF’s extensive experience across the full spectrum of corporate and commercial matters is complemented by particular sector strengths in retail, energy and utilities, tourism, hotels and leisure, and sport. Led by Wayne Lawrence, the team manages a varied workload, which includes M&A, joint ventures, corporate structuring, private equity and capital markets transactions, and corporate governance. Its client roster spans a wide variety of Scottish, UK-based and international clients, including Distell, Visit Scotland, Capita Plc and Graham’s the Family Dairy Group. In addition to acting for almost half of the FTSE 250, other clients include private equity funders, management teams and public sector bodies. In 2016, Paul Pignatelli and Gemma Gallagher assisted Exova (UK) Limited with expanding its environmental business through its acquisition of Jones Environmental Forensics. In another matter, Alasdair Peacock and senior associate Rachel Gervaise worked with a multidisciplinary team which acted for Sterling Furniture Group in its acquisition of Forrest Furnishing Limited from Ken Forrest. Damien Bechelli and Gary MacDonald are other key individuals, as are legal director Tom Maxwell and senior associate Kirsty Smith.

Addleshaw Goddard’s practice was strengthened in 2016, following the key partner hires of Anna Brown and Helena Brown from Pinsent Masons LLP and Burness Paull LLP, respectively. The former is particularly experienced in listed company work, including equity capital markets transactions (AIM and main market), while the latter has commercial contracts expertise, such as procurement and outsourcing. Led by David Kirchin, the corporate team manages high-value domestic and cross-border M&A and private equity (including venture capital) transactions, joint ventures, fund formation and corporate structuring. The practice has great breadth, acting for clients from a wide variety of sectors, such as oil and gas, real estate, metals, technology and manufacturing. Andrew Ley, who leads the firm’s food and drink and capital markets teams, specialises in acting for entrepreneurial owners, management teams and investors in high-growth companies. Murray Jack heads the firm’s life sciences sector group, and is also active in corporate deals involving a wide range of other industries. In the utilities arena, Andrew Walker was the lead adviser to Castle Water in its acquisition of Thames Water’s non-domestic water business. David Horne, who is qualified in England and Scotland, acted for Ediston Homes in its acquisition of Craighead Properties, and also handled Europa Capital’s £36m acquisition of Laser VV Property.

Harper Macleod LLP’s corporate group, which is led by Donald Munro, handles a full range of matters for owner-managed and family businesses, ranging from SMEs to multinational operators, as well as the organisations acquiring these entities. In 2016, Munro along with James MacGregor, recently promoted partner Stephen Chan and Scott Kerr were part of a multidisciplinary team that advised Germany-based Tchibo Coffee Service on its acquisition of Matthew Algie & Company. Paula Skinner leads a sub-team that focuses on acting for early stage and high-growth companies; illustrative of the practice’s commitment to the area, it is the exclusive legal partner in Scotland to Scottish EDGE and Entrepreneurial Spark (the world’s largest free business accelerator). Kerr was the lead adviser to e-commerce start-up Market Limited on a £2.4m series A investment by BGF Ventures and Spring Partners. Other key individuals in the team include Craig McKerracher and Chris Kerr, who divide time between Glasgow and Inverness.

MacRoberts LLP handles a full spectrum of mandates for Scottish SMEs and mid-market corporates, as well as UK Plcs. In addition to handling purely domestic Scottish and UK transactions, cross-border work is another cornerstone of the multifaceted practice, with the firm advising UK businesses on expanding their operations overseas, and assisting offshore companies with their investments into Scotland and the wider UK. The group’s work spans a wide range of sectors, such as oil and gas services, manufacturing and healthcare, among others. In 2016, Alan Kelly and Gary Baines worked with a multidisciplinary team to advise Johnston Press Plc on its high-profile £24m acquisition of the ‘i’ newspaper from Independent Print Limited, and also advised the same client on the disposal of its Isle of Man titles. David Wylie acted for Breedon Aggregates Group Plc in its £15.7m acquisition of Sherburn Minerals Group. Led by Neil Kennedy, the team ‘always responds within the timescales required’. Michael Kellyturns things around very quickly, producing top-quality work’.

Anderson Strathern’s team acts for public and private sector clients, as well as third sector organisations, in matters such as M&A, joint ventures, corporate restructurings and AIM listings. The firm has a particularly strong reputation in the energy sector. Practice head Simon Brown, Martin Whiteford and senior associate Ashley MacIntyre have advised INEOS Chemicals Grangemouth Limited and Petroineos Europe Limited on various procurement issues and supply contracts following a joint venture in 2011 between INEOS and PetroChina International; in a current highlight, they are currently advising these clients on an agreement with Jacobs UK Limited concerning the provision of design and technical services at the Grangemouth Refinery. Elsewhere, John Kerr and senior associate Ashley MacIntyre acted for Scottish Midland Co-operative Society in its sale of R.Hindhaugh (Chemists) Limited and Seaton Delaval pharmacy to Gorgemead Limited. Senior associate Ewan Regan has more than 15 years’ experience handling transactions for start-ups, angel investors and listed companies, among other clients. Bruce Farquhar and James Blair are other recommended individuals in the group, which was strengthened by the recent addition of Nicholas Howie from Holmes Mackillop.

BTO Solicitors LLP’s broad client base includes housebuilders, funders, entrepreneurs, owner-managed businesses and national/international businesses. In addition to assisting with funding transactions and organisational restructurings, the firm also handles acquisitions and disposals, MBOs, joint ventures and investment agreements, among other matters. Jeremy Glen leads the team, which is ‘realistic in its timescales and always provides value for money’. Singled out for particular client praise is the ‘very pragmaticAndrew Sleigh, who acted for Cooper Cromar Group (a vehicle used by the management team) in the MBO of Cooper Cromar Limited. Gary Booth handles a variety of matters for clients in the SME sector, including share and business purchases or sales, shareholder agreements and commercial contracts. Scott Wyper, who made partner in 2016, draws work from a wide range of sectors, with a particular specialism in renewable energy transactions. Alastair Dunn is another key individual.

Bellwether Green advises on M&A, private equity, MBIs and MBOs, corporate structuring, shareholder issues and commercial contracts for Scottish family-owned and owner-managed companies, PLCs and multinational corporates. The practice gained momentum in 2016, with the firm winning work from new clients such as Proficio, Stay Highlands, Craigalan Controls and Payment Protection Scotland. April Bingham leads the team, which attracts work from clients across various industries, such as technology, financial services, healthcare and manufacturing. In 2016, Bingham and senior associate Stephanie Farrell acted for Traveltek Group Limited as the investee in a £5.3m investment made by fund manager YFM Equity Partners. In another highlight, Bingham advised Hamilton Robertson Insurance Brokers on its distressed acquisition of the business and assets of C&A Mackie Insurance Consultants Limited (In Administration). Louise Cent joined Maclay Murray & Spens LLP.

Davidson Chalmers LLP excels in acting for owner-managed businesses and other SMEs. Its client base spans various sectors, with the firm being particularly active in areas such as healthcare, technology and renewable energy. Practice co-head Craig Stirling is particularly experienced in dental sector transactions, and also advises other health sector clients, including pharmacists, opticians and medical practices. In 2016, practice co-head Stuart Duncan acted for environmental and waste recycling company Suez during its buy-in to Glenfarg Organics, while Stirling advised Inch Volkswagen on the sale of a portfolio of Scottish Volkswagen dealerships to the Arnold Clark Group. Duncan has particular expertise in setting up Scottish limited partnerships and Scottish limited liability partnerships. CL Selby Holding, Little Learners Scotland and Shin-etsu Group are among a number of recent client wins.

Gillespie Macandrew LLP has a varied client base, which includes SMEs and family businesses, high-net-worth individuals, large corporates and public sector bodies. The firm’s work spans a wide range of industries, where members of its team handle M&A, equity investments and commercial contracts. A particular area of strength is in managing the corporate aspects of renewable energy and land-based development projects. In 2016, Derek McCulloch worked with associates Michael Cox and Chris Gibson to advise Rio Tinto on the £330m sale of its Alcan Aluminium UK business to SIMEC. Gibson, who joined the firm in 2016 from Jacksons Law, is dual-qualified in English and Scottish law, and is particularly experienced in acting for early-stage software and technology companies in matters ranging from fundraisings to sales. In another highlight for the firm, practice head Christopher Smith was the lead adviser to the shareholders of Route Monkey in the company’s £9.1m sale to Trakm8.

Corporate and commercial boutique Kergan Stewart LLP undertakes transactional and advisory work on a wide range of issues for businesses UK-wide. Led by Alan Stewart, the eight-strong team includes four partners who have 100 years’ combined experience in the practice area; according to clients, they are ‘driven by the desire to get things done – and done properly’. Catherine Feechan, who is particularly experienced in acting for clients in the food and beverages sector and life sciences industries, advises on M&A, joint ventures and commercial contracts, among other matters. Fiona Piper is a go-to expert for private equity transactions and director Elizabeth Kennedy has a strong track record of assisting main market and AIM-listed clients with managing a variety of board-level issues, such as equity financing and corporate governance. David Allan and associate Stephen Smith recently joined the firm from Brodies LLP. The practice secured a string of client wins in 2016, including Direct Business Systems, Direct Healthcare Group and Dulux Group. One recent highlight involved acting for Comcast Ventures and NBC Sports Ventures on the merger between FanDuel and DraftKings, having previously advised the same clients on their investments in FanDuel.

Lindsays has a strong reputation acting for family businesses and SMEs across the Central Belt and further afield throughout Scotland. The firm draws work from clients in a wide range of sectors, such as education, pharmaceuticals and life sciences and retail, among many others. A particular strong suit is in the technology sector, where its client roster includes entrepreneurs, spin-off companies and investors. David Lindgren is experienced in advising technology sector investee companies and investors on fundraisings. Lindgren and senior associate Alastair Smith acted for The IDCo (formerly Miicard) as the investee in a £1.5m investment by new and existing investors. The firm also acts for a wide range of clients in the healthcare industry, such as opticians, dental and medical practices, among others. Practice head David Wood recently acted for Northern Ireland-based Corry’s The Chemist in its acquisition of Killearn Pharmacy. The practice gained momentum in 2016, winning work from several new clients, including SIPS Holdings, Capital for Colleagues Plc (an investor in employee-owned businesses) and Anderco Holdings. Douglas Roberts, Peter Tweedie and Claire McCracken are recommended. Solicitor Stewart Gordon joined the Glasgow office in 2016 from Levy & McRae.

Commercial law firm MBM Commercial has an outstanding reputation in the technology sector, where it acts for growth companies and investors. Its practice also experienced an uptick in work for emerging and established managers seeking assistance with forming venture capital funds and other fund structures. In 2016, practice head Kenny Mumford acted for Seraphim Capital on the launch of a space technology venture capital fund. Outside of technology, the firm features in high-end matters involving other sectors, such as Stuart Hendry acting for Dawnfresh Seafoods on the sale of its scampi business to Whitby Seafoods, a deal which was reviewed by the UK Competition and Markets Authority. Tracey Ginn, who is dual-qualified in Californian and Scottish law, joined the firm in 2016 from Polsinelli PC, and has vast experience in US and UK corporate transactions. Stephen Clark and Laura Peachey are highly regarded associates, and senior solicitor Jennifer Noble is also recommended.

Macdonald Henderson’s corporate team handles a varied workload, which includes Scottish and cross-border M&A, MBOs, private equity investments, share buybacks, shareholder issues and corporate governance. In 2016, Fraser Morrison acted for a shareholder consortium in the circa £1m sale of a controlling interest in St Mirren Football Club to property developer Gordon Scott and the St Mirren Independent Supporters Association. Morrison also acted for high-growth male cosmetics company YOLO for Men and its sole owner Marianne Morrison in private equity investments made by various global investors. Managing director David Beveridge heads the team, which acts for clients ranging from start-ups and small owner-managed businesses to larger corporates.

Morton Fraser, which has a first-rate reputation among its Scotland-based clients, has particular strengths in assisting SMEs and owner-managed businesses with matters such as fundraising, restructuring and M&A. The firm also acts for investors and investees (particularly high-growth technology companies) in private equity transactions, and also has a strong client following of individual entrepreneurs, public sector bodies and higher education institutions. Practice head Austin Flynn, who ‘cuts to the heart of the matter when presented with an unforeseen scenario’, worked alongside senior associate Callum Murray in the advice to the founders and shareholders of Premier Asset Finance during its circa £20.5m takeover by Paragon Bank Plc. Murray is a recent hire from Stronachs LLP. In another highlight, Adrian Bell and recently promoted partner Paul Geoghegan advised the principal vendors of Intelligent Point of Sale on the company’s sale to iZettle. Iain Meiklejohn, Iain Young and senior associate Lauren Scott are other names to note in the team. Joyce White retired from private practice.

Shoosmiths’ team ‘thinks things through, is likeable and good at delivery’. Led by Alison Gilson, the group acts for Scottish, UK-based and international clients of various shapes and sizes from a broad cross-section of industries, such as transport, technology and construction, among others. Its diverse workload includes M&A, restructurings, joint ventures, fundraisings, commercial contracts and corporate governance. Gilson and Stuart Murray advised video games publisher and distributor Maximum Games on its acquisition of Avanquest Software Publishing. In another highlight, Murray acted for Leonard Haymarket in its acquisition of Morrison Street Hotel Limited. Associate Jen Paton is another notable individual in the team. SI Seafarms, MV Commercial and Photonic Solutions are among other clients of the practice.

Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP’s strong private client practice sees it handle a wide range of matters for family-owned and owner-managed businesses, including succession-related issues. At the other end of the client spectrum, the firm also acts for large Scottish and UK corporates, such as Ken Long assisting Macfarlane Group with a series of acquisitions in 2016, including its £1.25m purchase of Colton Packaging Teesside. Domestic and international franchising work (for franchisors and franchisees) is a major cornerstone of the work, with Angus MacLeod and senior associate Martin O’Neill being names to note. Core sector strengths of the practice include food and drink (particularly Scotch whisky and alcoholic spirits) and technology; Whyte & Mackay, Beam Suntory, Equity Gap and Gabriel Investments are among the firm’s key clients. Graham Bell heads the team, which also includes Colin Millar and Susan Hoyle.

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