Simpson & Marwick to merge with Clyde & Co next month

Gordon Keyden

In the wake of sundry mergers, the demise of Tods Murray and, most recently, McClure Naismith, the announcement that two firms in rude health, Simpson & Marwick and Clyde & Co, will be merging is good news for the Scottish legal market as Clyde & Co gains the smaller firm’s expertise while lending it global reach.

It seems fitting that Clyde & Co, whose founder’s family produced two Lords President, as well as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, will now have a base in Scotland.

The move will see Clydes gain seven offices to add its UK offices in London, Manchester, Oxford and Guilford.

It will also give the firm its first Scottish office and strengthen its insurance litigation offering.

The merged firm will be called Clyde & Co, with current senior partner James Burns continuing at the helm. However, the residential property division will continue to trade under the Simpson & Marwick name.

Speaking to Scottish Legal News, Gordon Keyden, managing partner at Simpson & Marwick  distinguished the merger from others in Scotland, explaining that it was not driven by need but by a desire to enhance both firms’ prospects.

On the question of consolidation in Scotland generally, Mr Keyden did not foresee much more in Simpson & Marwick’s principal area – insurance – simply because it has reached its limit on both sides of the border.

When asked about some firms’ strategy of practising only in Scotland he said the full service law firms who choose to do that do not need a global reach but that UK reach is important and that “it is potentially going to become necessary to have European reach” in the future.

Perhaps most excitingly for Scots lawyers and prospective lawyers are the opportunities available to them at a global law firm like Clyde & Co. Mr Keyden noted these will be “immense”, with young lawyers having the chance to qualify in other jurisdictions.

Simpson & Marwick has 45 partners, the majority of whom advise on insurance disputes as well as real estate and employment. In addition, it has seven offices. Clyde & Co has 1,500 lawyers and 40 international offices.

Head of insurance at Clyde & Co, Simon Konsta, said: “Combining the market leading insurance and professional liability practices in both England and Scotland will enable us to develop synergies that will be to the advantage of our respective clients.”

Simpson & Marwick previously called off a merger with Kennedys in 2013 for “complex” reasons.

Clyde & Co, meanwhile, merged with Barlow Lyde & Gilbert in 2011.