Firm Profile > BLM > Glasgow, Scotland

1 George Square
G2 1DY

Personal injury: defender Tier 2

The team at BLM primarily acts for major insurers and multinational companies, for whom it defends personal injury claims both in and out of court. According to a client, it is ‘knowledgeable, personable, experienced and hard-working’.  Key areas of expertise for the group include abuse, casualty, catastrophic injury, indemnity, RTA, occupational disease, suspected fraud and travel claims. Karen Dance, Ian Leach and Frank Hughes share responsibility for leading the group. Elsewhere, Andrew Gilmour’s practice has an emphasis on disease and environmental matters, while Greg MacDougall is recommended for travel and holiday actions. Rachel Henry is a name to note for high-value catastrophic claims.

Practice head(s):

Karen Dance; Ian Leach; Frank Hughes

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Gilmour; Greg MacDougall; Rachel Henry; Kirsty Yuill


‘A team of approachable individuals with a range of knowledge not only across the field of personal injury, negligence and practice but also of opponents and tactics. All are engaging and aware of the need of insurer clients.’

‘Knowledgeable, personable, experienced and hard-working solicitors determined to work along with their clients to secure the best possible outcome.’

‘Frank Hughes is excellent. He has a pragmatic approach to getting a good outcome for his clients.’

‘The level of training provided and jurisdiction and third-party solicitor knowledge is exceptional and has always been like this.’

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





Gallagher Bassett




Inter Hannover

Jet2 Holidays

John Menzies plc, including Menzies Aviation and Menzies Distribution




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

The practice at BLM is instructed by a broad variety of insurers, brokers, underwriters, reinsurers and corporate clients, attracting plaudits for its ‘consideration for the operational, tactical and strategic issues’ associated with professional negligence claims. Jointly led by Grant Maclean and David Taylor, the group defends claims running the gamut of professions, spanning architects, engineers, surveyors, insurance brokers, financial advisers, accountants and solicitors. Also active in the space are healthcare expert Greg MacDougall, insurance specialist Frank Hughes and the highly regarded Karen Dance.

Practice head(s):

Grant Maclean; David Taylor

Other key lawyers:

Greg MacDougall; Frank Hughes; Karen Dance


‘The team approached the matter in a systematic and disarming way, having consideration for the operational, tactical and strategic issues likely to arise. We were particularly impressed with the entrepreneurial way in which the lawyers addressed our long term commercial interests.’

‘Karen Dance has excellent knowledge of our niche insurance business handling professional negligence claims.’

‘They are noted for their experience and astuteness in particular.’

Key clients

Federation of (Ophthalmic and Dispensing) Opticians

Health and safety Tier 3

BLM is well versed in handling HSE and police investigations alongside fatal accident inquiries for companies and, to a lesser extent, individuals. Its corporate client base spans a wide range of sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, logistics and retail. 'Outstanding' team head Zoe McDonnell was promoted to partner in October 2020 and is experienced in conducting trials in the summary and solemn courts for clients accused of causing death and serious injury.

Practice head(s):

Zoe McDonnell


‘Zoe McDonnell is absolutely outstanding in health and safety. She is determined to give the clients the best outcome and really does go the extra mile for them. She is a very astute court lawyer and very tactical in her approach. She has a really lovely manner with clients that really puts them at ease.’

‘A small team ably led by Zoe McDonnell; highly responsive and client-focussed. The small team allows a level of personal attention and care which clients clearly appreciate.’

‘Zoe McDonnell is the stand-out partner who leads the team in Scotland. She has wide experience in the area and is respected by clients, counsel and the courts alike. Zoe adopts a meticulous approach to preparation; she is pragmatic and tactically aware.’

Family Tier 4

With decades of experience litigating a broad array of family, child and matrimonial cases in both the Court of Session and Sheriff Court, Caroline Gillespie spearheads BLM’s family practice. Gillespie and her team concentrate on international child relocation and cohabitation cases, as well as complex financial provision cases. Key assistance is provided by Alison Nicol, who joined the team from Jones Whyte LLP in January 2020.

Practice head(s):

Caroline Gillespie

Other key lawyers:

Alison Nicol


‘BLM took my case when I was at my wits end in what turned out to be a very difficult and protracted case. They have kept me up to date timeously in a courteous manner.’

‘Caroline Gillespie’s unfailing support and handling of fragile matters are second to none. Caroline was able to put herself in my shoes and navigate clear-headed through the complexity of matters. Caroline has the ability to go right to the heart of the matter.’

‘Caroline Gillespie strikes me as a very experienced and knowledgeable operator who operates in a pragmatic and solution driven basis.’

‘Caroline Gillespie and her team are always very professional in their approach. They listen to clients from both a commercial and professional perspective. They are very easy to work with in a collaborative basis’

‘Caroline Gillespie is very knowledgeable in her field and offers a personable approach to her dealings with clients and other professionals. I have referred her to a number of clients and intend to do so in the future’

‘Alison Nicol is very knowledgeable and also has a strong understanding of the needs of parents who are involved in the family court process’

‘The BLM family law team in Glasgow are excellent, able and highly motivated. They have a good manner with clients and with agents. Their level of commitment and service is high.’

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 is a Partner in the catastrophic team. She has specialised 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 safety…
 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 an insurance litigation firm, making it a unique place to train. The national firm has 13 offices across the UK and Ireland and its ‘diverse range of litigation seats’ plus ‘expertise in insurance law’ were the main factors driving trainee applications. Plenty of client secondment opportunities round off the broad training experience. Hands-on tasks are the norm, with standout moments including ‘drafting applications to court, instructions to counsel and witness statements’ and ‘being given the main role in settling a £1m claim on an insurance policy’. However, this doesn’t mean that trainees don’t have to do grunt work such as ‘large document review projects’, ‘reviewing social services records of over 10,000 pages’ and ‘having to run to court at 3pm to issue proceedings by 4pm’. Recruits are very grateful for ‘the amount of trust placed in us’ and for ‘approachable partners’ from whom they receive plenty of supervision. What’s more, ‘there is a big emphasis on employee welfare, which has been particularly valuable during the pandemic’. Recruits feel that the salaries in some locations ‘could be a little higher – more in line with our competitors’. Another gripe is that ‘we are not always kept up to date with matters relating to our training’. Because of lockdown, some trainees feel that they have ‘missed out on opportunities and building relationships’, whilst others commented that they have had longer hours due to working from home. But ‘overall, the firm has adapted well to this new way of working and supervision’. For plenty of exposure and high-profile clients in a friendly firm with a good work/life balance, look into BLM.