Scottish Legal Market Takes Itself To The World

Paul Steven

Every year, Edinburgh’s festivals attract over four million people. From all corners of the globe, people travel to the Scottish capital to see live performances of music, dance and theatre. There’s also the chance to see a world premiere of a film or a demonstration of ground-breaking science. The cobbled city streets are suddenly full of different accents; different cultures.

Over the course of several weeks, the world comes to Scotland.

Conversely, in the legal market, Scotland is taking itself all over the world. Legal firms based in Aberdeen and Edinburgh; Glasgow and Inverness are now being recognised as international centres of excellence within specific disciplines. They are now able to take their services worldwide in locations including the Middle East and South America.

Beyond regular commutes to London – as can be the norm in many Scottish firms with UK head offices in the capital – many firms now have their sights firmly set on the ability to market themselves to clients operating in entirely different time zones, never mind legal frameworks.

Since 2018, there has been a marked move to position the Scottish legal offering as a force to be reckoned with on the international scene. Initiatives, such as Scottish Legal International (SLI), aim to “highlight the significant international work already being carried out by Scottish solicitors and encourage expansion by marketing Scottish legal services as an essential component of successful international trade and investment.”

Employer branding, use of technology and commercial awareness all play into the ‘sellability’ factor for legal firms. In order to have a strong presence not only in the Scottish market, they have to be seen to be working in a manner that sets them apart from the competition. There are no rewards for remaining behind the times as the expectation for global collaboration grows.

More than this, for international firms looking to set up a UK base, Scottish offices are a much more budget friendly alternative to London, with all the same access to some of the industry’s brightest and best minds.

Peter Lawson, Chair at Burness Paull LLP, said: “At Burness Paull, we have a global mind with a Scottish heart.  Our lawyers love living in Scotland – no wonder, it’s fantastic – and they have a hunger for international work. Clients love what we do, and we are in demand all over the world.  Last year we helped clients in more than 60 jurisdictions, in line with our strategy to be the best Scottish law firm in the world.”

As another festival season in Edinburgh winds its way towards a grand finale, it is great to see this celebration of culture and creativity continue to grow in size and reputation. How encouraging, then, to see the Scottish legal sector almost mirror this success.

I headhunt senior lawyers for private practice firms across the Scottish market. For a confidential discussion regarding executive search requirements, get in touch on 07476 268984 or email 


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