Friday, February 22, 2008

Edinburgh tagged as 'crooked lawyers centre' in Europe as business customers stay away from Scots legal profession

Nothing like having another tag added to our great city - this time not one of the better ones as Edinburgh becomes known as the "crooked lawyer" centre of Europe.

As many firms now try to avoid doing business with Scottish legal firms over infamously poor service, corrupt practice and huge bills, many wonder when the legal services market reforms will be implemented ...

Space in the Moray Firth to clean up the Capital ?

The Scotsman reports :

Legal bigwigs moving in on city


A BOOM in legal firms moving to the Capital has seen the city establish itself as one of Europe's top centres for lawyers.

A series of high-profile moves in 2007 means that 24 per cent of all office relocations involved the legal sector – a higher ratio than any other European city.

Just under four per cent of all major legal offices opened in Europe in the first three quarters of last year were in Edinburgh.

Although the Capital still lies well behind the "big five" legal centres on the continent, it attracted more firms than two of the top cities – Amsterdam and Frankfurt.

The latest comparison of Edinburgh in a global context by real estate consultants Cushman & Wakefield comes as separate new data has revealed the number of office deals in the city rose by 26 per cent in 2007 compared with the year before.

Cameron Stott, director for Jones Lang LaSalle in Edinburgh, said the city had long had a strong legal sector.

Increased business from London for some of the city's biggest firms had seen them look to move into bigger head offices, Mr Stott said.

He added: "The legal sector in Scotland has been going through quite a significant expansion. Law firms are increasingly becoming more commercially aware, getting more work across the UK and looking to expand."

The financial services sector continues to be the dominant one in Edinburgh, but not many firms in the sector have been leasing space in the past 12 months.

Instead, companies such as Royal Bank of Scotland, Standard Life and Scottish Widows have bought and developed their own buildings.

It has resulted in the legal and professional sectors being dominant in snapping up space.

The biggest leases signed by legal firms in 2007 saw Shepherd & Wedderburn rent 57,000 square feet of space at Exchange Place, while Maclay, Murray and Spens rented 48,000 sq ft in the top floors of the new Quartermile commercial development.

Other major deals saw Biggart Baillie move to Lochrin Square, and Brodies signed a deal for Clydesdale Bank Plaza.

Chris Cuthbert, of Cushman & Wakefield, said: "Legal firms tend to be a bit more image conscious and want to give their clients the right impression.

"The top law firms want to be in the best possible space and keep up with the competition. It's a bit of 'keep up with the Joneses'."

The legal sector is still buoyant despite the wider economic slowdown. Mr Cuthbert said: "Solicitors have dominated the larger end of the market, showing that even when there is a dip in the economy, legal practices tend to be more resilient than most."

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