Scots law firms have continued to impress this year with the breadth and depth of their proficiency across a broad spectrum – though there has undoubtedly been a tectonic shift in the market over the past decade. It’s been a transition from the old Scottish ‘Big Four’ to the current situation in which international firms now provide an increasingly different proposition for clients and ambitious lawyers.

Margins though continue to be squeezed with the spectre of cost-cutting constantly looming. In the Law Society of Scotland’s Journal, Richard Burcher noted that “redundancies” had reappeared in the legal press and stressed the need for a coherent approach to pricing. 

In some cases, economies of scale and combined skillsets can be achieved through mergers, such as that between two of the oldest law firms in the country, forming Morton Fraser MacRoberts.

These are among the issues discussed in this year’s Legal Scot which also notes the conspicuously enhanced role of senior women in the profession since Madge Easton Anderson became the first woman to work professionally as a lawyer in Scotland more than a century ago. 

Alan Shanks, head of Scotland at international law firm Addleshaw Goddard describes the country’s legal scene as a “different world” and despite the challenge of scale for smaller firms, “Scotland is a fantastic place to practice law”. 

Clients, he adds, are now looking for much more from their advisors, including having access to the latest technology to ensure they are getting the best possible service. “This means significant investment is required by firms to meet these demands going forward.”