Stables overview in Scottish Bar
‘From a user’s perspective’, Ampersand Advocates ‘goes above and beyond at all times to assist wherever possible’. Like the other Scottish stables, a diverse range of work comes through its doors, however, tort, real estate, and commercial matters are key strengths, and arbitration is a growing area of focus. ‘All the clerks are friendly, accommodating and very professional’, however at the most senior level Alan Moffatt ‘will go out of his way to make sure you get the right counsel for the job’, and his deputy Sheena Hume is ‘particularly efficient and easy to deal with’. Vinit Khurana QC and Una Doherty QC took silk in 2018.
Arnot Manderson Advocates has ‘a number of very good counsel across a variety of subject areas – if chosen counsel are unavailable, the clerks are very helpful in recommending someone of an equal calibre, even at short notice’. Family law is a key strength at the set, along with personal injury and clinical negligence. The ‘extremely helpful and efficient’ clerks’ room, which provides ‘excellent service’ is led the ‘very friendly’ Elizabeth Manderson and Andrew Sutherland. Kate Dowdalls QC was appointed a full-time member of the Scottish Law Commission in July 2018.
‘Probably the pre-eminent commercial litigation stable in Scotland’, Axiom Advocates ‘hand-picked the best when it formed and even now is known for not having any weak links’. In addition, it has, for some at least, ‘the strongest collection of expertise at the Scottish Bar in relation to public and administrative law', is ‘the go-to stable for IP and IT disputes’, and ‘head and shoulders above other sets for construction expertise’ in addition to ‘appearing to be building a good presence in the private client arena’. The set has ‘one of the most dependable clerking teams’, which ‘provides a service that compares to the best London sets’; ‘like counsel at the stable, they understand the commercial pressures placed upon solicitors and those felt by clients’. This is led by practice manager Lesley Flynn, who ‘really knows her stuff and is willing to go above and beyond’, deputy clerks Catriona Still and Colleen Adams, who are ‘a joy to deal with’.
Black Chambers is known for its criminal law work, with its members both prosecuting and defending. Lee-Anne Black is the stable’s clerk, with Stevie Burns her deputy. Jane Farquharson QC (a full-time Senior Advocate Depute) and Ronnie Renucci QC were 2018 silk appointments.
Compass Chambers, in addition to ‘remaining the market-leading stable for regulatory and financial crime work’, ‘specialises in personal injury, able to provide high-quality counsel suitable for cases of any level’ and is ‘very strong in health and safety law’. ‘The clerks know their counsel, their availability and their strengths’, making practice manager Gavin Herd ‘everything a counsel’s clerk should be’, and deputy clerks Kiera Johnston and Lesley Hogg are ‘always pleasant do deal with, efficient and happy to help’. Three members joined in June 2019 following their call: Ranald Macpherson and Gregor Rolfe, previously from Clyde & Co LLP, and Bruce Langlands from Digby Brown LLP.
The retirement of previous clerk Banny Mackinnon has led to his eponymous set rebranding as Optimum Advocates. Still the only stable based in Glasgow, Angela Bath (previously Mackinnon’s deputy) and her deputy Laura Kenney head-up the clerking operation of a stable known for criminal, family, employment, and some commercial cases.
Terra Firma Chambers is, for some, ‘the stand-out planning stable – it has unrivaled strength-in-depth and as such solicitors know they will be able to get the best counsel available’, but property and tax are also strong suits for the stable. The clerks, who ‘always bend over backward to help’, are ‘easily among the best in Parliament House’: Practice manage Emma Potter is ‘particularly helpful, with vast experience in helping identify suitable counsel, and her deputy Andrew Veitch ‘is particularly impressive - he has excellent relationships with agents and has none of the “old Edinburgh establishment” attitude that can be very off-putting’ – Tracy Whitelaw is also recommended. Among the advocates, Alasdair Burnet is now a partner at Burness Paull LLP.