Dundas & Wilson recruits from failed Semple Fraser

Law firm Dundas & Wilson (D&W) yesterday revealed it has taken on 17 people from failed rival Semple Fraser, comprising six partners, six lawyers and five trainees.

Allan Wernham, co-managing partner of the firm, added that the practice is keeping a door open to further hires and that it was in talks to bring in two additional support staff after Semple Fraser administrators expected to make 37 of its employees redundant in addition to 25 lawyers.

Only one of the partners transferring to D&W, Elspeth Carson, former head of Semple Fraser’s real estate team, will join as a partner. The others, Kenneth Carruthers, Alison Gow, Angus MacRae, Margaret McLean and Ewan Thomson, will work with the practice on a consultancy basis.

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The new hires mark a turnaround for D&W after Wernham admitted that the firm has had a “fairly bad run of it” after it saw several partners leave the business in recent months.

Wernham said: “Partners leave for a variety of reasons. We have done a lot of work in the last 12 months to re-shape our partner base to clarify our strategy. It was inevitable we would see some departures.”

He said that it was also “inevitable” that there would be more law firms forced to merge this year.

“You have a market where pricing is under pressure, volumes have reduced and a business that has a high fixed cost base. That is the reality of running a law firm in this particular market. It requires you to look at all the options for what is the best thing for your clients and your people,” said Wernham.

Edinburgh-based Davidson Chalmers also reported that Semple Fraser’s head of planning, June Gillies, has joined it as a partner.