Merger fever has become highly contagious in Scottish law firms and traditional names are disappearing every month. Several of the amalgamations are strategic and forward looking, others are bank-driven with a view to reducing costs through economies of scale and some represent the absorption of failing legal practices. There is more to come in all three categories.

It is impossible to predict how many of these mergers will be successful and, in such a volatile climate, it may be difficult to say how one judges relative success or failure. To have any real prospect of success, a merger of professional firms has to involve much more than pooling of resources, the sharing of offices and the integration of systems. There needs to be a shared vision and an alignment of the culture and ethos of the combining firms. In several of the merging firms in Scotland at the present time, there is strong leadership and a real determination to"make it happen".

Turcan Connell is one of relatively few of the larger Scottish law firms who are not considering any form of merger or being integrated in an English-headquartered firm. We feel that we have carefully constructed our business and our brand and we are determined that we will not damage or dilute our quality and our independence by hopping into bed with another firm which might not share our own mindset and values.

Instead, our own focus has been on two areas. First of all, we are continuing to develop the next generation of lawyers and other advisers. This multi-generational approach is a key part of the way in which we deliver our services to our clients who value long term relationships. We are also making our services available to our clients in Glasgow where we have just opened a new office. With offices in Edinburgh, London and Glasgow, we want to be available to our clients where they want us to be.

Against a rather gloomy background, we ourselves have many reasons to be cheerful. We are not alone in grasping opportunities in this new environment and there are several examples in Scotland of law firms changing, producing new services and being responsive to what clients require.

It is essential for all the clients and for the Scottish economy that a progressive and vibrant legal sector emerges from this period of change.

Douglas Connell, Joint Senior Partner, commenting in The Herald.