Firm Profile > BLM > Glasgow, Scotland

G2 1HY

Personal injury: defender Tier 2

BLM’s ‘fantastic group of experienced litigators’ advise on the defence of all types of complex, high-value claims, including RTAs, brain injuries and mesothelioma matters. The group’s ability to handle high-profile matters is demonstrated by its work on notably significant litigation relating to the Glasgow bin lorry crash of 2014. Key figures in the team include Edinburgh office head Ian Leach and head of disease Andrew Gilmour , who is 'exceptional in occupational disease claims'. The team has undergone significant change in 2019; a five-partner team left to join DAC Beachcroft Scotland LLP, although Rachel Henry rejoined the firm and Kirsty Yuill was promoted to partner.


Very attentive, transparent and easy to do business with.’

I have dealt with Frank Hughes on some high value and complex cases. He has been outstanding. In particular his patience with difficult clients, and his ability to work with them to obtain good results.’

The experience and drive of senior, respected and hard-working partners, particularly Karen Dance and Frank Hughes allows the firm to provide a reliable, high quality service to its clients. Recent appointments of Kirsty Yuill and, more recently, Rachel Henry add strength and expertise in relation to catastrophic injury and major loss cases. The team handles a broad range of complex and high value PI cases on instructions from insurers.’

Key clients

1st Central









AXA Insurance

BAI Claims Services Ltd



Charles Taylor Adjusters



City of Edinburgh Council

Clark Thomson


Co-operative Group

Davies Group Ltd

Department for Transport




Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians


Gallagher Bassett




Inter Hannover

Jet2 Holidays

John Menzies plc




Mitchells and Butlers


MS Amlin

Network Rail

NFU Mutual

NN Group

One Insurance

Peel Ports




Resolute Management Ltd

Rio Tinto

Riverstone (AXA LM)

Sabre Insurance Ltd



Scottish Water

Syndicate 2525

Thomas Cook



WH Malcolm

XL Catlin


Professional negligence Tier 2

BLM acts for an array of insurers, brokers, and underwriters across the corporate sector as well as professional bodies in the financial services, accountancy, and engineering fields. Practice head Grant Maclean is experienced in commercial and contractual disputes and co-head David Taylor has a specialism in property damage litigation and coverage issues. Greg MacDougall is the name for medical-related professional negligence matters.

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‘I have dealt with many solicitors over the years, both in a private and a business capacity; with many you feel it is all about fees. I did not get that feeling with BLM. I found them extremely personable, extremely professional and very knowledgeable in their area – they actually really care about achieving positive results for their clients and are also prepared to be truthful if they feel the client has a weak/no case. This is very refreshing.’

‘Grant Maclean is very direct, even if was giving me bad news. I felt he was always on top of the case.’

Key clients

Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians

Health and safety Tier 3

BLM is well placed to assist clients with HSE investigations and fatal incident inquiries including various associated regulatory and criminal matters. In October 2019, Zoe McDonnell took over the practice and acts for companies and individuals across a range of industries, such as construction, agriculture, manufacturing and distribution.

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BLM has a small but highly effective team specialising in health and safety work in Scotland. The team is also experienced in dealing with road traffic cases and fatal accident inquiries. The team, led by Zoe McDonnell, is dedicated, experienced and with particularly strong client focus.

They are able to provide team members with a range of specialties.

They take on a range of cases from the biggest, high-profile matters to smaller ones but their approach remains consistently professional and pragmatic. Their advice and representation is first rate and they quickly get to the heart of an issue.

The team is lead by Zoe McDonnell who is utterly brilliant in her approach to client management, the law and getting the best for the client. She has a mainstream criminal background and displays all the common sense and directness that comes with that. That knowledge and ability have transferred to the benefit of everyone she works with, including insurers, counsel and clients. Her advice and approach to clients is always spot-on and she is incredibly kind to the humans who run organisations putting them at ease with the situation they find themselves in, and the process that is happening around them.

Zoe McDonnell is a star. She leads her small but effective team from the front. Zoe is experienced in the investigation and defence of large corporates and individuals alike. She brings a wealth of practical experience and is highly client focused. Highly recommended.

Zoe McDonnell is a very skilful and no-nonsense operator whose incisive knowledge inspires confidence.

In particular Zoe McDonnell has done excellent work for us. Zoe’s technique for technical data gathering is very effective, always accurate.

Zoe McDonnell sees problems before they are problems and has worked out how to address them before they happen. It is almost as if she can see into the minds of the prosecution.

Family Tier 4

BLM's Scottish practice advises on a range of family law matters, covering complex financial provision and child contact and residency arrangements resulting from divorce. Practice head Caroline Gillespie has advised on a number of cross-border financial provision and contact cases, with a strong track record of defending and opposing the validity of foreign judgements. Assistant solicitor Nicola Buchanan is another key contact in the practice, with experience of handling sensitive child welfare cases.

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‘The people throughout the firm demonstrate sensitivity to their clients’ situation and needs and are responsive in a professional and pragmatic manner.’

‘Caroline Gillespie is a very professional individual – she has the the manners of cardiac surgeon! She is engaging and precise; it has been my pleasure to find such an individual to take care of our legal issues.’

‘I have been highly impressed by Caroline Gillespie. She instils complete confidence in her clients through her manner and abilities. Caroline is personable and displays good judgement through her knowledge, awareness and attention to detail.’

‘Nicola Buchanan provides clarity and reassurance to her clients and works with purpose to consistently deliver results and achieve best outcomes for clients.’

The firm: BLM is more than an insurance and risk law firm – it understands and is firmly embedded into the sector. Its purpose is to have a positive impact upon its customers’ businesses. As well as having more experts dedicated to the sector than any of its competitors, BLM’s ‘one team’ philosophy is delivering extraordinary outcomes for its customers. Fundamentally, it is helping them to reduce the time and money they spend on managing risk and resolving disputes. BLM obtains beneficial leading judgments on cases of utmost importance to its customers. BLM is described in customer surveys and legal directories as a firm with ‘its finger on the pulse of the market’€ and as a ‘technical powerhouse’€. It presently represents 13 of the top 15 UK insurers, and many corporate clients, both in the UK and worldwide.

With ambitions for growth and expansion, BLM has an existing strong remit of international work and contacts, representing UK companies operating abroad, acting for a breadth of international organisations and handling high profile multijurisdictional cases. In 2017 BLM launched, with several founding members, Global Insurance Law Connect; it comprises like-minded risk and insurance law businesses. What sets Global Insurance Law Connect apart is its understanding of the insurance industry and it comprises really specialist insurance lawyers across more classes of business in more countries than many other and similar networks. Global Insurance Law Connect was inspired by customer demand and was established to support customers to confidently receive solutions to insurance and legal challenges around the globe.

BLM’s award winning Customer Insight programme has assisted the firm in gaining an independent view of what customers really think, with the aim of building a better understanding of their perceptions of the firm, and their needs and requirements now and in the future.

BLM’s team of over 200 partners and more than 800 legal specialists is focused upon the insurance and risk market and is recognised for having the capability, creativity and energy to support customers and help them find solutions to their problems.

Accolades and industry awards: In 2016 senior partner Mike Brown was awarded Director of the Year (Large Company) for the North West (Institute of Directors); Commercial Insurance Law Firm of the Year in 2016 (Commercial Insurance Awards); Winner – Client Care Initiative (Modern Law Awards 2016); Third Party Claims Management Team of the Year for Profecta (Insurance Times Claims Excellence Awards); Insurance Law Firm of the Year (Claims Awards 2014).

Types of work undertaken: BLM has established a deep-rooted presence in the general insurance sector, the London Market and amongst brokers and has an excellent record in handling a full range of matters including commercial disputes, family law, healthcare disputes, liability claims, marine insurance claims, professional liability, public service risks and regulatory matters. BLM’s depth of expertise is pre-eminent in these areas and the firm is recognised by customers, competitors and the judiciary. The firm also has a significant presence amongst corporate businesses many of whom are multi-national, the public sector and the health and care industry. In addition BLM has an established policy development team which often acts as a conduit between government, policymakers and the firm and its customers.

BLM has a vibrant and growing family law team. The formidable team, with accreditations in Family Law & Child Law, collaborative practice and mediation, has an excellent reputation in cases involving high net worth financial provision upon divorce, as well as in high profile and international cases.

BLM takes a high level and active role in ongoing debates and consultations in Scotland relating to legal and procedural reform. The firm has partners who are members of various committees of the Law Society of Scotland (Civil Justice, Regulatory and Legal Services Reform), as well as being members of the Court Personal Injury Users Group, the ABI and the Chartered Institute of Insurers. There are three former chairs of the Forum of Insurance Lawyers in Scotland as well as five civil solicitor advocates, including an in-house QC, and with Law Society of Scotland Specialist Accreditation amongst its partners.

The firm is regularly instructed in high profile and strategic, campaigning litigation and advice. Current themes are the firm’s continuing instructions from insurers in low velocity impact motor cases and costs challenges, where BLM has featured consistently and most prominently in the Scottish market throughout the past year, as well as advising upon the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill.

Other offices: Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Dublin, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Londonderry, Manchester, Southampton

Department Name Email Telephone
Senior partner Michael Brown
Managing partner Gary Allison
Belfast Cormac Fitzpatrick
Birmingham Mike Dobson
Bristol Joe Wakeford
Cardiff Kerris Dale
Derry Cormac Fitzpatrick
Dublin Gavin Campbell
Edinburgh Ian Leach
Glasgow Gillian Rushbury
Leeds Henry Kirkup
Liverpool Joanne Francis
London Jennette Newman
Manchester Luisa Lamb
Southampton Joe Wakeford
Global insurance law network Nicola Lynch
Photo Name Position Profile
 Karen Dance  photo Karen Dance Karen is a partner and has been involved in insurance litigation for…
 Caroline Gillespie  photo Caroline Gillespie Caroline is head of the family law team and partner in Glasgow.…
 Andrew Gilmour  photo Andrew Gilmour Andrew is an insurance partner based in BLM’s Glasgow office. He is…
 Rachel Henry  photo Rachel Henry Rachel has specialised in person injury civil litigation since her traineeship in…
 Frank Hughes  photo Frank Hughes Frank is a partner and head of BLM’s Glasgow office. He has…
 Grant Maclean  photo Grant Maclean Grant is a partner and his routine involvement includes a wide range…
 Zoe McDonnell photo Zoe McDonnell Zoe is a partner and specialises in the defence of health and…
 Tony Murray  photo Tony Murray Experienced in all aspects of insurance litigation, Tony has specialised in handling…
 David Taylor  photo David Taylor Specialises in high value property damage work , defended and recovery, and…
 Kirsty Yuill  photo Kirsty Yuill Partner
Number of UK partners : 200
Number of other UK fee-earners : 675
Total staff : approx 1,600

We are committed to developing, maintaining and supporting a culture of equality, diversity and inclusion for our workforce. We seek to sustain a working, learning and social environment in which all our people can achieve their potential and are valued, recognised, supported and celebrated. In 2019 we were proud to have been ranked in a list of Top 50 UK employers for inclusiveness, a definitive list of UK based organisations that promote inclusion at each level of employment within their organisation. The list represents those companies which promote all strands of diversity including age, disability, gender, LGBT, race, faith and religion.

We were also the first law firm to officially sign up to The Inclusive Behaviours in Insurance Pledge, an initiative set up by Lloyd’s of London and Zurich to demonstrate the insurance industry’s commitment to creating a “culture where inclusive behaviours become the norm and where everyone is accepting of diversity.”

We are committed to creating an inclusive workplace which reflects the diverse nature of the communities in which we work. We know that embracing difference contributes positively to a flourishing workforce.

We have completed our 2019 Gender Pay Gap overview, which reflects the required reporting details, including statistics for the firm’s pay and bonus gap, proportionality of male and female employees, as well as an overview of the approach we take to the wellbeing of all our employees. It is encouraging that the percentage of women in our upper quartile has increased this year along with significant improvement to our gender pay gap median, trends we are continuously seeking to maintain and improve. We have a constantly evolving leadership development programme at the firm, and the equality of opportunity provided by this programme can clearly be seen in the positive changes to our Gender Pay Gap year-on-year.

The Lex 100 Verdict

BLM is known for market-leading prowess in the insurance and civil litigation fields, plus experience within the health and public sectors. This attracts trainees keen on a liabilities or tort law focus while offering the opportunity for a 'good variety of contentious seats', industry secondment places and a 'very good reputation in the market' as 'litigation specialists'. BLM is a nationwide full-service firm with a strong presence in Northern Ireland where it has offices in Belfast and Derry. Trainees applaud the firm's 'work/life balance and the approachability and support from partners'. The working atmosphere is described as 'relatively relaxed, yet professional.' As a result, BLM secures a Lex 100 Winner award for its work/life balance, retaining the award from last year. Trainees highlight the 'higher level of responsibility' compared with peers, and comment on the 'hands-on approach from the start. In my team, I am running my own caseload and have a high amount of client contact on a daily basis'. The only downsides reported are the pay and occasional lulls in work that some trainees experienced. A notable highlight included 'attending a Civil Justice Reform Committee meeting chaired by the Master of Rolls, surrounded by a dozen senior judges, QCs, and heads of relevant institutions'. The firm has a major focus on CSR activity and pro-bono support, which trainees applaud: 'there's lots of CSR going on and trainees are actively encouraged to participate'. For trainees looking for contentious civil training, early responsibility and speciality in the insurance and health sectors delivered in a personable and social atmosphere, BLM is an attractive option.