Balfour+Manson LLP: Balfour+Manson refreshes management team03/04/2014

ONE of Scotland’s longest-established legal firms is refreshing its management team as it aims to build on a consistently strong performance through the recession.

Balfour+Manson’s chairman Fred Tyler is stepping down after eight years in the job, to be replaced by Head of Litigation Elaine Motion. She will be succeeded by David Short, who will also take his place on the Management Board which runs the firm. There is no managing partner and the board is composed of the Chairman, the heads of the three departments – Litigation, Private Client and Commercial - and one other elected member.

Tyler will continue working as one of the 17 partners at the firm, which has a total headcount of 127, in his specialist areas of personal injury and medical negligence.

Motion, who takes up the chairman’s role today [Monday 3rd March], said of Tyler: “His contribution to the firm, both in terms of his leadership and management and the quality of his work, has been staggering. Under Fred’s leadership, the firm launched a funding company that affords protection to a client involved in litigation. He is a mammoth figure in the personal injury field in Scotland and will continue to be so. These are big boots to fill, but Fred will still be there to provide sound guidance as I take up the chairman’s role.”

Tyler, 62, said: “The time was right to step down and let others come through. The firm is in great shape and I am convinced that Elaine will be an excellent leader who will continue to drive Balfour+Manson forward.”

The firm was founded in 1888 and celebrated its 125th anniversary last year. Unlike many of its competitors, it chose to retain its Edinburgh New Town base rather than moving to the new legal ‘quarter’ at the West End of the city centre. It also has an office in Aberdeen, which celebrates a decade in business this year.

“We thought long and hard but decided to stay in Frederick Street in Edinburgh,” said Motion. “We are in a wonderful building and our clients enjoy the convenience of us being right in the city centre. Sometimes, what appears to be a conservative decision actually proves very far-sighted.”

This is borne out by Balfour+Manson’s turnover and profit figures, which have remained stable through a turbulent time for the Scottish legal profession, with the demise of Semple Fraser and major firms like McGrigors and Dundas & Wilson entering into mergers with global legal businesses.

“Our performance has been exceptionally good during challenging times, with various teams across the firm developing strongly,” said Motion, who has been with the firm for 20 years. She  previously trained and practiced with other firms  in Scotland and as a barrister and solicitor in New Zealand. Motion specialises in human rights and civil liberties and has been involved in a number of landmark challenges including the right to oral parole board hearings.

She continued: “One of my key roles as chairman will be to raise our profile externally to let people know what Balfour+Manson is really about – a firm with traditional values and a caring heart, but also a modern, successful legal business doing cutting-edge work.”

Motion said Short, who joined Balfour+Manson in 2012, was “an inspirational lawyer and an excellent businessman and marketer”. Short said: “I am delighted to step up to my new role. Balfour+Manson has exceptional strength in depth in this area and is doing some really innovative work.”

Short’s workload includes the ‘class action’-type case involving claims against Diageo. Residents of Bonnybridge claim emissions from the Diageo plant in the town near Falkirk have left ugly deposits on their properties in the so-called “whisky fungus” case, which follows similar cases in the United States.

Balfour+Manson also has a strong family law team and hosts its 13th Annual Family Law Conference at Perth Racecourse today (Monday 3rd March), with 170 delegates attending.

For more information, contact Sejal Majithia-Jaswal, Marketing and Business Development Director, on 0131 200 1402 or Sejal.Majithia-Jaswal@balfour-manson.co.uk