Law firm

Garden Stirling Burnet law firm taken over by Friends Legal

The county’s largest law firm, Garden Stirling Burnet (GSB), has been acquired by Glasgow-based law firm Friends Legal.

Friends Legal has pledged to keep the GSB name and promised “rapid investment” to double staff and turnover in three years.

GSB – whose roots date back to the founding of the law firm Stirling and Burnet in Haddington in the early 1900s – has a team of 22 across its four offices in Haddington, Dunbar, North Berwick and Tranent.

Tony O’Malley, Managing Partner of Friends Legal, said: “GSB is an excellent company with an excellent reputation, fantastic people and an unrivaled presence in East Lothian. We will re-establish GSB in the local market by investing in its people, infrastructure and brand.

“It is the largest law firm by footprint and headcount in the county, but it may have lost market share in recent years.

“Our goal is to put it back on the map by offering premium services at a fair price. This is our top priority and we will need to recruit to achieve these goals.”

Angela Craig, Tony O’Malley (centre) and Alan Borrowman at GSB North Berwick

While GSB – which will be part of the Friends Legal network – is known for its estate agency, execution and conveyancing work, Friends Legal says a priority will be to unlock the potential of its entire team of private clients. , including family law and its rental business. .

The takeover creates a business with a total turnover of over £7million and 60 employees across Scotland.

GSB directors Alan Borrowman, Angela Craig and Ian Philp will remain with the company for at least a year.

Friends Legal says the new consultant roles will “free them up to focus on the work they love while improving work-life balance”.

Mr Borrowman said: ‘We would also like to wholeheartedly thank our loyal customers for their continued support and reassure them that this merger means that Garden Stirling Burnet continues to be a leading legal presence here in East Lothian.

“Indeed, by joining the Friends Legal network, our offer of legal services to clients will become even more specialized and accessible.”

And he added: “It’s the right deal at the right time and it will be fantastic for the dedicated and hardworking team that we have established at GSB over many years. As directors, this is so important to us. and we are excited about the company’s long-term plans and outlook and the role we play in the community.

Founded by Mr. O’Malley in 2016, Friends Legal offers enforcement, wills and power of attorney services directly to consumers.

He says the acquisition of GSB will also allow him to explore other consumer legal services, particularly in conveyancing and remortgaging.

From its Glasgow headquarters and another office in Edinburgh, it already provides volume services for personal injury and medical negligence.

In 2015, GSB transitioned from a partnership to a public limited company under the management of the three current directors.