Member of the Week - Harper Macleod
Since it was established in 2004, Harper Macleod’s Inverness office has grown rapidly and now provides a comprehensive range of legal advice to businesses, organisations and individuals throughout the Highlands and Islands.
Now employing 24 members of staff, including 6 partners, the office at Cradlehall Business Park is just one of Harper Macleod’s offices across the country; including offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Lerwick and Thurso. With a total headcount nearing 400 employees, Harper Macleod is the largest Scottish law firm with a permanent presence in Inverness.
We spoke to Chris Kerr, Partner and Corporate lawyer at Harper Macleod, to find out more:
“I head up the firm's operation in the Highlands and Islands and have done so since we first opened our Inverness office 13 years ago. I work mainly with family owned and owner-managed businesses and I've been lucky enough to build up great relationships with many local business people, business families and businesses.
Over that time I've seen the firm grow to become established as a leading player in all aspects of legal services in the region – both business and personal. That's a big part of my role, helping identify areas in which the firm can grow and in turn contributing to the local economy through job creation, bringing in people to events and helping businesses to grow and thrive. In the past, I've lectured in Company Law at Inverness College and held non-executive director appointments on the boards of two Highland-based companies.”
To cope with its rapid growth over the past few years, Harper Macleod completed a full refurbishment of its Inverness office last year, doubling the space it held previously. The firm also increased its presence last year when it was joined by the well-known local firm, Allen & Shaw.
Harper Macleod is set to host the 8th edition of Scottish Highland Renewable Energy Conference (SHREC) at the Kingsmills Hotel on Tuesday 25th April, an event the firm has held every year since 2010. Renewable energy is just one of the areas in which the firm has a team of dedicated specialists. This year's event will focus some of the pioneering renewables projects, looking at the relevance of the supply chain, and the role that communities can play in the future of renewables. Find out more about SHREC here.
The firm has always been renowned historically for providing corporate and commercial advice, as well as advising clients in the public sector. However, personal legal services – including family law advice - is an increasingly significant part of its activity.
Last year also saw the firm launch a new website – www.estateagencyhighlands.co.uk – focused on its estate agency service. Led by Partner Gary Campbell and Property Manager Susan Breen, the firm offers a personal, relationship led service from marketing the property through to transfer of ownership.
Harper Macleod is better placed than ever to provide a full, one-stop service for the business and personal legal needs of its clients.
Harper Macleod has been named Scotland’s Law Firm of the Year 8 times in 10 years, most recently at the 2016 Scottish Legal Awards. In March, the firm was also shortlisted for National/Regional Law Firm of the Year at the Legal Business Awards 2017, one of the UK's biggest legal profession awards.
On Chamber membership, Chris said:
“We're very proud to be members of the Inverness Chamber of Commerce with one my fellow Partners, Ross Thomson - who specialises in real estate, banking and dispute resolution - spending the past two years as President of the Chamber. We know the value of networking, and wherever we have operated our people have always immersed themselves in the community, business and otherwise. Ross has worked at the firm’s Inverness office since 2004. Donald Shaw who joined last year from Allen & Shaw is also a Past President of the Chamber.
As a firm we’ve always recognised the importance of getting out and about. As well as enabling you to make vital contacts, being an active member of the business community is the best way to get a grip on the issues, challenges and opportunities facing everyone. We want Highland businesses to succeed, it's good for them and it's good for us. That's a goal we share with the Chamber so it makes sense for us to be involved.”
We asked Chris to provide his ‘top tip’ to ensure other Chamber members maximise their membership:
“When I was asked by the firm to help launch our Inverness office it was an exciting opportunity and while I had the benefits of the resources associated with a large organisation, nobody was dictating to me how to take it forward. On the other hand, it might have been the case that after six months, we’d established there was absolutely no need for a corporate lawyer in the Highlands.
I joined almost every club going in order to get exposure to different businesses. I went along to every event I could with a view to understanding the issues affecting the Highlands at that time and how they impacted upon me and the business as a whole. I would then analyse the bones of the conversations I was having to decide where we should be investing our time. This strategy is an important aspect of starting and growing any business – the "meet and greet" phase – because that's how you earn your reputation and start to win work.
The Chamber is a great organisation for this, and I'd recommend that anyone looking to maximise their membership take advantage of all the events that take place. You never know who you'll meet and what you'll learn, but you certainly won't find out unless you get involved.”
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Harper Macleod LLP
Alder House, Cradlehall Business Park
Tel: 01463 798777