Irwin Mitchell merges with Scotland’s Wright Johnston & Mackenzie

Second Scottish merger this week hands national UK firm £12m practice with network of five offices

Glasgow Christine Dodd; Shutterstock

UK law firm Irwin Mitchell (IM) has strengthened its position north of the border with the acquisition of independent Scottish law firm Wright Johnston & Mackenzie (WJM). 

The deal will see IM’s presence in Scotland expand beyond its Glasgow office, which focuses on banking, finance and personal injury work, to WJM’s bases in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness, Dunfermline and Dunblane. 

WJM’s roughly 95-strong team mainly performs corporate, private client, property and asset management work and posted revenue of £11.7m for its financial year ending 31 March 2022, a 7% increase on the previous year.

The news marks Scotland’s second major merger of the week after two of the country’s oldest law firms, Morton Fraser and MacRoberts, announced on Wednesday they were merging to create a new “top tier” independent firm

Craig Marshall, chief operating officer at IM, described the two firms as a “great cultural fit”.

“We have ambitious plans for growth, and we are both focused on building on our client-centric approach, an excellent colleague experience and an ambition to become leading responsible businesses. 

“This strategic investment significantly expands our access to Scotland and Irwin Mitchell and Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie believe it will fundamentally enhance the service for current and future clients across the whole of the UK and internationally.” 

Upon completion of the deal, IM partners Bruce Macmillan, Craig Marshall and Mark Higgins will join WJM’s newly constituted management board. WJM will continue to trade under its own brand as a separate LLP, under the umbrella of Irwin Mitchell’s Jersey-registered holding company. 

Fraser Gillies, who will continue to act as managing partner at WJM, commented: “This is a landmark moment for our firm. We have expanded considerably over the past decade and this investment will supercharge our growth efforts and provide a clear route into England and Wales, while broadening the services we can offer our clients.”

IM’s Scottish expansion follows the firm opening offices in Liverpool and Cardiff last year and acquiring asset management firms TWP Wealth and Andrews Gwynne. 

In August, IM posted a group revenue increase of 1.8% to £271m for its 22/23 financial year. Group profit before tax (PBT) was down 29% to £15m, which the firm put down to “planned investments in our IT infrastructure and data capabilities, marketing spend and transaction-related professional fees to help position the business for long-term growth, as well as the impact of higher operational costs and one-off costs related to the strategic early exit from our Gatwick office lease.”

For its part WJM has also grown through acquisitions in the past few years, including acquiring Edinburgh boutique J Gibson Associates in late 2020. 

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