LAW firm Burness Paull is still feeling the effects of the downturn in the North Sea, with its turnover nudging up by just one per cent in the year to the end of July while profits fell by two per cent over the same period.

The firm, which has a significant presence in Aberdeen following the 2012 merger of Burness with local outfit Paull & Williamsons, posted turnover of £53.8 million and profits of £22m.

On a per-partner basis profit increased marginally, with the average figure attributed to each equity partner standing at £452,791, up from £451,307 a year earlier.

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Chairman Philip Rodney conceded that the firm was impacted by “what has been a bumpy year for the Scottish economy”, though said that in the circumstances the firm considered its financials for the year to be “satisfactory”.

“Last year in Scotland the economic situation was more challenging, principally caused by the uncertainty about Indyref2; there was referendum fatigue,” he said.

“Coupled with Aberdeen, the trading backdrop was hard last year. It has been a combination of the shock of Brexit, worries about Indyref2 and what was happening in the North Sea.”

Noting that Indyref2 is now “off the agenda for the foreseeable future”, Mr Rodney said that clients have been able to “reset their strategies” and are starting to look again at investment opportunities.

“Another outcome from the general election in June is that we are more likely to see a pragmatic rather than dogmatic Brexit and that will be better for business,” he added.

In terms of Aberdeen, Mr Rodney said the city is “now turning a corner”, with companies such as Israel’s Delek Group and the UK’s Hurricane Energy investing in the North Sea this year.

The former, which is the largest energy group in Israel, finalised its takeover of Aberdeen-headquartered Ithaca Energy in May while the latter announced in June that it was looking to raise $520m to carry out test drilling in the Lancaster oilfield.

“Aberdeen as a city is interesting,” Mr Rodney said.

“I read an article that said normal will be the new normal in Aberdeen - it will move from being a city with peaks and troughs to a normal city with normal levels of unemployment and normal hotel prices.

“It will still prosper and a lot of the oil and gas activity will be more integrated with energy more generally.

“Aberdeen will go through that process of reinvention.”

Over the past year Burness Paull has added eight partners to its ranks, two of whom have been appointed externally while six have been promoted internally.

Property partner Nicky Clemence joined from Brodies and dispute resolution partner Jody Crockett joined from City firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer while Joanna Fulton, Lindsay Wallace, Graeme Bradshaw, Andrew Christie, Graeme Palmer and Claire MacPherson were all promoted.

“I’m very excited about the talent we have attracted to the firm and we’ve also had six partner appointments - we’ve never done so many at one time before,” Mr Rodney said.

Among the deals that Burness Paull advised on during the year was Maven Capital’s £2.7m fundraising for payments business QikServe, the Scottish Loan Fund’s exit from Vermilion Holdings and Renegade Spirits’ development of Waterford Distillery in Ireland.

The latter is emblematic of Burness Paull’s growing international focus, with around 40 per cent of all the work it does now having an international element.

“Scotland continues to produce exciting, dynamic businesses and is increasingly attractive for inward investment - more so than any region out with London,” Mr Rodney said.

“This year, for example, we have had instructions from new clients in the US, China, Norway and Israel.

“In addition, a substantial part of our practice is in acting for clients who are doing business beyond our boundaries.”

Burness Paull’s turnover and profits have been relatively flat since 2014/15, when they grew by 11 per cent and 12 per cent respectively to hit £51.3m and £23.2m.