Kennedys set for Scots merger with insurance firm Simpson & Marwick

Kennedys is set to become the latest UK top 50 firm to move into Scotland, with partners voting on a potential merger with specialist insurance firm Simpson & Marwick later this week.

The merger would hand Kennedys five offices in Scotland, with Simpson & Marwick having a presence in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and East Lothian.

The firm, which also has bases in London and Newcastle, focuses on insurance, personal injury and negligence claims, as well as private client, dispute resolution, employment and administrative law.

According to its website, the Scots firm has 33 partners based full-time in Scotland, with two more splitting their time with the English offices, which house a further three partners. If the talks progress, Simpson Marwick expects to put the merger to a partnership vote in the new year.

Kennedys currently has 18 offices, 10 of which are in the UK, in addition to bases in Portugal and Spain in Europe, Miami in the US, and bases in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific.

The firm is currently in merger talks with top-tier aviation outfit Gates and Partners, as revealed by Legal Week, in a move which could see it branch out into the lucrative aerospace market for the first time.

Should the deal with Simpson & Marwick go ahead, Kennedys would join a number of firms to enter the Scottish legal market in recent months. In May, Pinsent Masons combined with McGrigors, while July saw DWF merge with Biggart Baillie.

Shoosmiths and DAC Beachcroft have also both opened in Scotland recently, acquiring Archibald Campbell & Harley and Andersons Solicitors respectively.

One senior partner at a Scots law firm commented: “This is a good move for both parties and makes strategic sense. I can see why Kennedys would want to operate in Scotland and a tie-up with Simpson & Marwick, which is strong in insurance and personal injury, has its merits.”

Kennedys has expanded significantly in recent years, merging with its Dublin associate office O’Hare O’Connor Walshe in June 2011, in the same month that it launched a presence in Brazil through an association with local firm Torres Marcellino & Associados.

The international expansion helped the firm break through the £100m revenue mark for the first time this year, with financial results for 2011-12 showing a 12.7% turnover increase on last year to reach £109.1m. Revenue for the first half of the 2012-13 financial year is up around 10%.

Kennedys and Simpson Marwick declined to comment.