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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. Leading individuals: 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 's team combines 'expertise, knowledge, people skills and attention to detail to ensure that the deal is completed in a timely manner'. Shuna Stirling  leads the group, which includes 'real no-nonsense commercial lawyer' Neil Burgess and Julian Voge. Other names to note include William McIntosh, Derek Stroud (who focuses on the renewable energy and oil services sectors), food and drink group head Eric Galbraith and associate Liz Bruce. The firm handles a broad cross-section of mandates for Scottish, UK and international clients; its varied workload includes acquisitions and disposals, MBOs, joint ventures, restructurings and commercial contracts matters. Illustrative of the firm's excellent record in high-profile and landmark deals, in 2017, Stirling, Roger Cotton and associate Alasdair Dunn acted for Abellio in the sale of a 40% stake in the Greater Anglia rail franchise to Mitsui & Co., and also in new joint venture arrangements between Abellio and Mitsui. Burgess was the lead adviser to City Facilities Management Group on its strategic acquisition of Maintenance Management and Atrium Maintenance France, as part of the client's European expansion plans. McIntosh led a cross-practice team, which assisted Energy Services Group (which is backed by Accel-KKR) with its acquisition of Utiligroup, and with the related funding aspects of the deal. Martin Sloan has particular expertise in technology procurement (particularly in the financial services sector), IT outsourcing and data protection.

Burness Paull LLP has an outstanding track record in big-ticket cross-border transactions, as was demonstrated in 2017, when Walter Clark, senior associate Catriona Llanwarne and others acted as UK counsel to The Weir Group Plc in its acquisition of Singapore-headquartered KOP Surface Products from Akastor. Corporate finance head Chris Gotts recently led a team, which acted as UK principal legal counsel to AIM-listed Savannah Petroleum in a $270m reverse takeover transaction; the deal involved the client acquiring oil and gas assets in Nigeria from Seven Energy International, and undertaking a $125m equity fundraising. Corporate practice head Peter Lawson, senior solicitors Emma Fraser and Charles Rogers and others have been assisting Standard Life Aberdeen’s financial planning business 1825 Financial Planning Limited with a series of strategic acquisitions as part of its UK-wide expansion. Mark Ellis is equally strong in M&A and private equity deals. Robert Burns is another recommended individual in the team, whose other clients include Arran Aromatics, Maven Capital Partners, BlueGem Capital Partners, i3 Energy Plc and Brown-Forman Group.

CMS demonstrates ‘strong commercial acumen and a high level of professionalism‘ in transformational deals involving sectors such as energy, financial services, leisure, corporate real estate and TMT, among others. The firm is among the market leaders in Scotland for M&A, private equity and equity capital markets transactions. In addition, it enhanced its footprint in the UK and internationally, following the merger with Nabarro and Olswang in May 2017. Recent highlights included Graeme Bruce acting for Smart Metering Systems Plc in the £150m accelerated bookbuild placing of ordinary shares on the AIM market, and Kenneth Rose and others assisting GYG Plc with its £46.6m AIM IPO. Rose also acted for Sportech Plc in its court-approved £55m reduction of share capital. ‘Rising star‘ Jack Letson led a cross-practice team, which advised Northern Ireland Water on the acquisition of a group of companies comprising the Project Alpha Public Private Partnership from Kelda Group. The group’s list of standout partners also includes Wendy Colquhoun, Amanda Methven, Stuart Maclean, Ailsa Ritchie and David Davidson, among many others.  Colin Lawrie heads up the practice, which saw Duncan Turner make partner.

Corporate boutique Dickson Minto WS has established a reputation as a powerhouse for corporate and private equity transactions, thanks to the experience of its team, which fields seven specialist partners. Key figures are Bruce Minto, Andrew Todd, Colin MacNeill, Ewan Gilchrist, John Pentland, Duncan Christison and Andrew Nicolson. The firm is particularly strong in cross-border deals, including those involving North American investors/acquirers. In 2017, highlights included acting for Charles River Laboratories in its acquisition of KWS Biotest, and advising Barings LLC on the sale of its majority stake in Wireless Infrastructure Group to 3i Infrastructure Plc. The firm has also recently acted for clients such as Dunedin LLP, Verisk Analytics and Souter Investments.

Pinsent Masons LLP, whose team is led by Barry McCaig, has ‘strength throughout the team‘, and is valued by clients for its ‘ability to pull in sector experts to fit each deal‘. It provides the full spectrum of advice on high-profile and high-value M&A and joint ventures, debt and equity capital markets transactions, and private equity deals. Its list of blue-chip clients includes Skycanner, Iomart Plc and Lloyds Development Capital. In the oil and gas sector, in 2017, Rosalie Chadwick, senior associate Brian Thumath and others acted for Ithaca Energy in its $1.24bn takeover by Israeli energy and infrastructure conglomerate Delek. In another standout matter, Alan Diamond led a team, which included ‘completely unflappable‘ Jennifer Malcolm and Chadwick, in the advice to Scottish housebuilder Springfield Properties on  its £87m AIM IPO. Kevin Devanny acts for clients such as AGS Airports and JZ Capital. Senior associate Kevin Beattie is another key figure.

Shepherd and Wedderburn‘s team, which ‘understands the bigger picture in terms of business consequences‘, includes a number of first-rate practitioners, such as food and drink group head George Frier and Joanna Boag-Thomson, who are ‘commercial, innovative and provide great client service‘. In addition, Danny Lee and John Morrison ‘understand points easily and their drafting is high quality‘ and senior associate Tom Swan is lauded for his ‘attention to detail‘. Stephen Trombala leads the group, which is adept in transactions spanning a wide range of industries, including food and drink, renewable energy, corporate real estate, oil and gas (upstream and services sectors), technology and life sciences. It consistently excels in headline deals; in 2017, highlights included Frier and others acting as the lead legal adviser to Chivas Brothers (part of the Pernot Ricard Group) in the sale to the Glenallachie consortium of its Glenallachie distillery, and certain whisky stock and whisky brands. Frier also led a team in the advice to Collagen Solutions on its £8m placing and open offer, and also on a £4m bond issue. Morrison assisted TVSquared (one of Scotland’s most successful recent start-up companies) with its $6.5m series A equity financing. Also recommended are George Boyle, Andrew Blain, Paul Hally, Keir Willox, Joanna Monaghan  and Ian Mitchell.

Dentons established a presence in Scotland following a merger with Scottish firm Maclay Murray & Spens LLP in October 2017. In addition to being embedded in the Scottish and wider UK market, the combined entity has a notable international reach as well. A significant proportion of the firm’s work has a cross-border component; in 2017, Brian Moore, director Donald Smith and others were part of a team which assisted Aberdeen Asset Management with its £11bn merger with Standard Life . Moore and Smith were also among the advisers to QUIZ Plc on its £200m AIM IPO. Other key figures include Derek McCombe and senior associate Kimberley Goh, (she is ‘very good at taking the lead and coordinating all aspects of a transaction‘) who advised US-headquartered group Kaiam Corporation on the sale of Kaiam Laser Limited to II-VI Incorporated. The firm also handled mandates for Highland Distillers, Argenta and Johnson Controls. Guy Norfolk (who splits his practice between London and Edinburgh), Claire Armstrong and Owen McLennan are increasingly active in transactional and advisory matters in the fintech sector. Michael Livingston, Iain Sutherland, and Bill Fowler are other seasoned practitioners. David McGrory is ‘commercially aware and realistic‘.

Addleshaw Goddard entered the Scottish market in 2017, following a merger with HBJ Gateley. Its ‘high quality team‘ acts for a broad base of clients, including high-growth companies, private equity houses, management teams and investee companies. In addition, the firm acts for circa 40% of the FTSE 100 companies, many of which have operations in Scotland. In a recent highlight, a team led by Anna Brown acted for The City Pub Group Plc in its £96m IPO and AIM admission. Practice head David Kirchin, who ‘brings a calming influence in the heat of negotiations‘, and managing associate Laura Falls were part of a cross-practice team which assisted private equity sponsor Cairngorm Capital II and its acquisition vehicle Cairngorm Acquisitions III Midco Limited with the acquisition of Scottish timber merchant Thornbridge Sawmills Limited. Andrew Ley has deal experience in the food and drink sector, while David Horne specialises in corporate transactions involving industries such as real estate, hospitality and technology. Another name to note is David Anderson, who is particularly active in the Scottish digital and fintech sectors.

DLA Piper Scotland LLP‘s practice, which is led by Simon Rae, covers a broad spread of UK and international transactions, such as M&A, joint ventures, restructurings, and public and private fundraisings. A particular area of strength of the firm is in private equity deals, where the firm acts for clients such as Scottish Equity Partners, Proprium Capital and Vespa Capital. In a particularly high-profile matter, in 2017, McRae was the lead adviser to the vendors and to BrewDog Plc on the £213m acquisition of shares of and investment in BrewDog by TSG Consumer Partners. Rae, who has a particularly strong reputation handling deals involving the energy and technology industries, also worked with legal director Andrew Wardrop and others to advise longstanding client Energy Ventures on the institutional buyout of Aquaterra Energy Limited. Rae and Wardrop also coordinated and worked with other offices in the firm’s network to handle the global reorganisation of Marsh & McLennan.

Led by Wayne Lawrence, DWF‘s team undertakes the gamut of domestic and cross-border corporate transactions for Scottish, UK and international clients. The firm, which is active across many sectors, particularly stands out for its work in industries such as hospitality and leisure, retail, energy and utilities, sports, and food and drink. Its first-rate reputation sees it generate work from notable clients such as Custodian REIT Plc, Scottish Power and Exova. In 2017, Glasgow executive partner Paul Pignatelli, director Tom Maxwell and Colin Miller were among the team which acted for Capita Plc in the restructuring and subsequent disposal of CER Staffing Solutions (and its subsidiaries) to Endless Fund IV. Another highlight involved advising Edwin James Holdings Limited on its £24m acquisition of WT Parker Holdings Limited. Damien Bechelli, Gary MacDonald, and senior associates Kirsty Smith and Rachel Gervaise, are other active practitioners in the team.

Harper Macleod LLP‘s varied practice sees it undertake a mix of purely Scottish and cross-border transactions. It has a particularly strong client following of family-owned and owner-managed businesses, ranging from SMEs to multinational companies. In addition, as the exclusive legal services provider in Scotland to Scottish EDGE and Entrepreneurial Spark (among other clients), the firm generates a significant amount of work from early-stage and high-growth companies; members of the team assist clients with all aspects of obtaining investments, managing growth strategies and exit events. Work for overseas investors is another cornerstone of the practice. Food and drink group head Scott Kerr, who has ‘very wide-ranging expertise‘, is ‘calm under pressure‘. In 2017, Donald Munro, James MacGregor, solicitor Paul Macdonald and others acted for owner-managed Scottish accountancy practice Campbell Dallas in its acquisition by England-based The Baldwins Group. James MacGregor was the lead adviser to KKR-backed Webhelp (a Scotland-headquartered global business process outsourcer) on the creation of a joint venture vehicle, Go Beyond Services Limited. Stephen Chan led a multidisciplinary team which assisted Dundee Energy Recycling with its acquisition by MVV Environment. Paula Skinner and others acted for the majority shareholders of Brightwork in the sale of the company to Staffline Plc. North of Scotland team head Chris Kerr divides time between the Inverness and Glasgow offices, as does Craig McKerracher. Tom Thomas, Jamie Watt and David Kaye are also recommended.

MacRoberts LLP ‘combines legal expertise with commercial oversight right throughout the team‘, which is reflected in its work for clients ranging in size from family-owned businesses and SMEs to Scotland-headquartered listed companies. Although the firm is primarily active in the Scottish market, it is increasingly sought-after to advise on UK wide and international transactions. Its first-rate team includes Michael Kelly and associate Victoria McMurray, who acted for Idox Plc in its acquisition of Halarose in 2017. Another key figure is Neil Kennedy, who led a cross-practice team (which included members of the pensions, employment, property and tax practices) to advise the vendors on the sale of Morrison’s Garage Limited and Morrisons (Land Rover) Limited to John Clark Motor Group. Another headline deal saw Alan Kelly, Bonar Mercer and others assist high-growth educational software company Sumdog with obtaining a £1.4m investment from NESTA Impact Investments. David Wylie is another name to note in the group, which is led by Kennedy. Legal director Louise Mahon recently joined from Brodies LLP.

Anderson Strathern is ‘an excellent firm to work with, in terms of the quality of its work and its team’s understanding of client issues‘. Among other matters, its recent work has included transactions involving transitions into employee ownership; in 2017,  Bruce Farquhar and senior associate Ewan Regan handled a number of related deals for clients such as Paramount Care and Mediascape. Elsewhere, Farquhar, practice head Simon Brown and Nicholas Howie were part of a cross-practice team which advised longstanding client Blumerang Capital on its acquisition of G2 Energy Renewable Developments. John Martin Group, INEOS Chemicals Grangemouth, Rangers International Football Club and Buchan Biogas are among other clients. John Kerr has more than 30 years of corporate law experience, with particular expertise in third sector and international work. Another seasoned practitioner is Colin Young, who has a particularly strong track record advising multinational companies on commercial contracts issues.

Bellwether Green has ‘a strong reputation for quality, responsive advice and value for money‘, according to its clients. Notwithstanding the small size of its team, it provides ‘the same expertise as at larger firms, but within a more personal environment and at more competitive rates‘. Practice head April Bingham and senior associate Stephanie Farrell are ‘straight-talking, provide commercial solutions and are excellent networkers‘. A recent highlight involved acting for the shareholders of IDS Data Services Limited (t/a Intelligent Data Group) in the sale of the company to an England-based data and marketing group which is backed by US private equity investors. In another matter, the team advised the management team in the MBO of One Financial Planning Limited. Harper Bell, Proficio and Safesol are recent client wins.

BTO Solicitors LLP's team undertakes a wide variety of corporate transactions, including acquisitions and disposals, joint ventures and company restructurings. In addition, it advises on investment agreements, shareholder agreements and corporate governance issues, among other matters. The firm has a diverse client following, which includes sole traders and Scottish SMEs, as well as UK and international businesses. In the construction sector, Scott Wyper and senior solicitor Emma Barclay acted for Lifting Gear Hire Limited in its £1.7m acquisition of a competitor's business and assets in 2017. The firm generates work from clients across many other industries, including energy, food and drink, and travel and leisure. Wyper and practice head Jeremy Glen are two of the six partners in the team, with the other names being Andrew Sleigh, Alastair Dunn, Gary Booth and Patrice Fabien.

At Davidson Chalmers LLP, ‘the level of service is excellent, as is the quality and commerciality of advice‘. In the corporate real estate sphere, team head Craig Stirling advised Palm Capital and Guernsey-based CL Selby Holdings Limited on the latter’s £16.1m acquisition of DV4 Properties Orchard Brae Company Limited (a special purpose vehicle owning a substantial office premises in Edinburgh) from a vendor based in the British Virgin Islands. Stirling also acted for Sapphire Energy Limited (a subsidiary of Guinness Asset Management) in the acquisition of the business and assets of the Glassburn hydroelectric scheme. Elsewhere, and in addition to handling renewable energy sector transactions, Stirling has a particularly strong track record of handling M&A deals in the healthcare industry, including those involving medical practices, care homes, opticians and pharmacists. Stuart Duncan is particularly experienced in acting for family-owned businesses.

Gillespie Macandrew LLP provides the full spectrum of corporate law advice to public and private sector clients (of a range of sizes) from a variety of sectors; associate Chris Gibson is particularly active in acting for start-up and early stage technology sector companies in all areas of their lifecycle. The firm particularly stands out in the renewable energy sector, where it assists start-up and emerging companies with negotiating inward investments, joint ventures for renewables projects and other land-based development transactions. In 2017, energy and strategic land group head Derek Mcculloch, Amy McDowell and Michael Cox were among the advisers to Rio Tinto on the £330m sale of its Alcan Aluminium business to SIMEC. Food and drink and retail are among other industries where the team generates work. Gibson, McCulloch and team head Christopher Smith are dual-qualified in Scottish and English law. Senior solicitor Jennie Elliot is another key figure.

The team at Lindsays provides ‘real clarity on what are often complex questions‘. Notable individuals in the group, which is led by David Wood, include Douglas Roberts (‘always wholly professional‘) and senior associate Alastair Smith (‘tactically aware to deliver an agreed result in the quickest possible timescale‘). Claire McCracken and Peter Tweedie (who splits his practice between Dundee and Edinburgh) are also recommended. The firm has made a particular name for itself in the healthcare sector where, in 2017, a highlight involved advising University of Glasgow spinout Causeway Therapeutics on a £1m investment round. The firm also recently handled mandates involving veterinary practices, pharmacists and dental practices. In addition to the healthcare sector, it also excels in acting for investors and technology-focused investee companies in venture capital and angel investment transactions involving other industries, such as renewable energy and IT.  The team acted for Archangels as the lead investor in pump technology firm WaveLIFT. In a deal significant to Scotland’s growing video games industry, a highlight involved acting for Leslie Benzies in a six-figure investment in Edinburgh-based audio technology company Krotos. Elsewhere, the team advises family businesses and SMEs on corporate governance, commercial contracts and succession planning (including employee ownership) issues. Consultant David Dunsire joined in January 2018 from Shepherd and Wedderburn, while former David Lindgren recently retired from private practice.

Macdonald Henderson delivers ‘practical, to-the-point advice without burdening the client with the legal minutiae‘. The firm’s first-rate reputation enables it to attract high-profile deals, as was illustrated in 2017, when David Beveridge (‘quickly ascertains the key issues to address‘) and ‘exceptional‘ Fraser Morrison acted for The Glenallachie Distillers Company Limited in its headline acquisition of the Glenallachie Distillery from Pernod Ricard. In addition, Beveridge, solicitor Alasdair Swanson and others advised the owners of Lethington Leisure Limited on its £10.5m sale to The Brighton Pier Group Plc. The firm also handled matters for various other clients, including Old College Capital, Lifelinked Limited and Logos Logistics. Beveridge leads the team, which handles a mix of purely Scottish and cross-border M&A, private equity deals and MBOs, among other matters.

Under Kenny Mumford‘s leadership, MBM Commercial  has become a major player in the angel investment and venture capital arena, where it acts for investors and high-growth investee companies. The firm is particularly well-known for its work in the technology sector (it has been active in the Scottish technology investment market for more than 12 years); it recently acted as lead adviser on the formation of Scotland’s first pre-seed tech accelerator, Seed Haus.  The form also has a significant client following in other industries, including life sciences and food and drink. Tracey Ginn acted for TravelNest Limited in a £3m fundraise involving Pentech Ventures and other investors. Mumford advised Roslin Technologies Limited on the establishment and launch of an animal health services joint venture with the University of Edinburgh. Stuart Hendry acts for clients such as Dawnfresh Seafoods, Celtic Renewables and Mercia Technologies. Senior associate Laura Peachey is recommended.

Morton Fraser‘s ‘very supportive and knowledgeable‘ team handles a full range of corporate and commercial matters for owner-managed and family businesses, entrepreneurs, private equity investors and investees, and listed companies, among other clients. In addition to advising Scottish clients, it also acts for clients located in the UK and further afield overseas. The firm is currently advising Guardhouse Studios on the financing and construction of a purpose-built film studio in Scotland; Austin Flynn is advising on the corporate aspects of this matter. Flynn also acted for Cognitive Geology Limited in the negotiation of a £2m equity investment by Maven Capital Partners, Enso Ventures and Scottish Enterprise. Iain Meiklejohn is particularly experienced in transactions involving regulated or regulatory entities; ‘he has seen so much and can recommend bold and innovative solutions with confidence‘.  In recent developments, Paul Geoghegan made partner and Melanie Schwindt was promoted to senior associate, while Joyce White has retired from private practice. The team also includes Adrian Bell, Iain Young and senior associate Callum Murray.

Shoosmiths has ‘scaled up to form a competitive offering in the marketplace‘, making it a strong choice for Scottish and cross-border transactions. Its team works equally effectively on a standalone basis and as part of a wider UK group. Practice head Alison Gilson is ‘always client-focused and has a knack of not over-complicating the issues‘, while associate Jen Paton is ‘very proactive‘ and ‘gets the job done with a minimum of fuss‘. Stuart Murray has more than 20 years of experience advising on business acquisitions and disposals, joint ventures and MBOs, among other matters. In 2017, Gilson and Paton acted for Bob & Berts Group Limited in a £2m investment into the company by the Business Growth Fund. Paton and Gilson also advised Murray Hennessy (the former CEO of on an investment – alongside Mayfair Equity Partners – in Talon Outdoor, and also on his appointment as non-executive chairman.

Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP, whose practice is driven by its work for SMEs (including family businesses) and large corporates, is increasingly handling matters with a UK or international dimension. The firm’s strengths in acquisitions and disposals are complemented by its breadth of expertise in ancillary areas, such as intellectual property, franchising, tax and insolvency. In 2017, a standout highlight involved Ken Long leading a cross-practice team in the advice to London Stock Exchange-listed company Macfarlane Group Plc on its £16.75m acquisition of Greenwoods Stock Boxes and the shares in Nottingham Recycling. Team head Graham Bell acted for the shareholders of Thornbridge Sawmills Limited in the sale of the company to Cairngorm Capital. Another key client is The NWH Group, to whom the firm provided advice on its acquisition of the wood recycling business of DJ Laing Recycling Solutions. The team is becoming increasingly active in the technology sector, handling private equity transactions (involving start-ups and spin-out companies) on both the investor and investee sides; Long acted for Compound Semiconductor Technologies in its £13m takeover by listed Sweden-based company Sivers IMA Holding AB. Colin Millar is building up the firm’s offering to clients in the healthcare sector, and also has an active food and drink practice.

Derek Hamill, who heads up Gilson Gray‘s practice, is particularly experienced in corporate transactions involving procedural complexities or irregularities (such as those where there were historic improperly issued or improperly transferred shares). In addition, Hamill (who is dual-qualified in English and Scottish law) is knowledgeable about the IT, IP and competition law issues that arise from transactions. Elsewhere, other areas of expertise include employee ownership trusts, data protection and commercial contracts; in 2017, a highlight involved Hamill and solicitor John Kielski advising Delete Limited on a digital transformation agreement with Southampton Football Club. Another matter saw Hamill assist Fullclear Limited with an equity fundraise.

Turcan Connell is particularly active in advising entrepreneurs and family businesses. Its team assists clients with the full spectrum of operational issues, including business structuring, commercial contracts and governance. In addition, on the transactional side, the work spans exits, trade sales, MBOs/employee buyouts (EBOs) and vendor-initiated MBOs (VIMBOs), among other transition events. The practice generates work from clients across a broad spread of industries, such as energy, food and drink, software and computer services, and travel and leisure. In 2017, practice head Mike Kane and senior solicitor Bethan White acted for Russell Shepherd, the CEO and founder of Hotdocs Limited, in the sale of Hotdocs to US-based acquirer Abacus Data Systems. In another Scottish-US deal, the firm acted as the lead adviser to the shareholders of Converse AI on the sale of the business to a Seattle-based midmarket technology business. Jack Gardiner and recently promoted senior associate Victoria Tweed are other key figures in the team.

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