Our strategy has been to develop and grow our Aberdeen services as well as move into other more appropriate premises. In June 2016 we were delighted to merge with Duthie Ward who were known as a well established, highly regarded Aberdeen firm. As a result of this, we are now able to offer clients services in Private Client, residential property and matrimonial services over and above our litigation services. In doing so we relocated to a lovely office within possibly the best location in Aberdeen; 42 Carden Place.
2017 was an enormously exciting year for developments, promotions and growth of our Aberdeen and Edinburgh offices. It saw the promotion to Partner of Alan Gilfillan, Sindi Mules, Kirsten Knight and Jamie Foulis as well as Julia Cryan, Stephanie McLaren, Grant Miller and Elizabeth Sparks who were promoted to Senior Associate from Associate.
The anticipation is that 2018 will be equally as exciting!
In the meantime however 2017 ended with the passing of a pioneer lawyer, Ms Ethel Houston, who was the first female Partner in Scotland. She was assumed as a Partner in Balfour+Manson in 1949.
A wonderful thanksgiving service took place on 13 January 2018 at St Paul's and St George's, Edinburgh - it was a full house which speaks volumes of her character and influence across many areas.
Tributes were paid to her by her nephew and niece, myself and most touchingly and importantly her brother, Jim Houston, who at 95 spoke eloquently and lovingly of his sister. Whilst it is always very sad to see the passing of somebody so influencial in her spirit, undoubtedly will live on in so many ways, and what a life she lived!
As we continue to grow, the firm welcomed several new personnel to the Balfour+Manson family this year. In Edinburgh this included Amy Johnston, Amy McKay, Lesley Wright, Andrew Wallace, Melissa Inman, Shelley Moore, Tracy Stewart, Wilma Cunnison and of course our new Private Client Partner Karen Phillips! In Aberdeen we had Lynne Mulcahy and Jan Mackintosh who have expanded our ever-growing family law team.
The firm is as always highly recognised in Chambers UK and Legal 500 for the different service areas of personal injury, medical negligence, civil liberties and human rights, family law, professional negligence, charity, private client and employment that we offer to clients. We are particularly proud that we continue to be number one in personal injury; medical negligence and civil liberties and human rights.
In addition to this, other recognitions include:
Ann Logan, Partner was accredited as the first clinical negligence specialist and assessor in Scotland by Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.
Julie Clark-Spence, Partner was nominated for an award in the prestigious 40 under 40 in the Aberdeen business community and was also awarded senior litigator status by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.
We have had a number of staff who have shown tremendous loyalty to the firm, serving the firm for more than 25 years and in some cases 40+ years, they are: Fred Tyler, Raymond Newton, Audrey Imrie, Margaret Young, Sandra Dunn, Christine Laurie, Linda McAllister and Louise Taylor; a special thanks goes to all of them.
We also want to wish John Hodge all the very best for the future since retiring at the end of April. John spent 41 years with Balfour+Manson building our reputation for outstanding service within the Commercial and Charities team.
Each year the firm nominates a 'Charity of the Year' to raise funds for and I am delighted to say that this year's chosen charity is SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health). We are well on our way to reaching our target by holding monthly raffles, dress down days, bake sales and even a Pancake Day! I would also like to acknowledge so many of our people who have signed up to take part in events such as the Forth Rail Bridge Abseil and Kiltwalk this year in order to raise money for our chosen charity.
I am sure it will continue to be a successful year ahead and I am confident that with the current team we have in place and our commitment to our clients 2017 will be another wonderful year for the firm.
I travelled to Srebrenica in June of this year having been invited as part of a delegation for the above charity. The aim of the charity is not only to remember what occured in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in particular Srebrenica in 1995, but so that lessons can be learned from it in terms of "community" to ensure that the same does not arise in any other country.
We met a forensic anthropologist who has worked tirelessly to identify nearly 8400 men who were massacred over 5 days in Srebrenica in 1995 by the Bosnian/ Serb Army. They estimate 12,000 were actually killed. That occurred despite there being a UN peacekeeping force in the town.
We also attended the mortuary where the remains of many are still to be identified; met three women who were each making a significant impact in relation to bringing people to justice for this atrocity as well as crimes committed against women and girls as well as in Sarajevo itself.
They have given their lives to piecing together evidence to force the relevant authorities to invest in the identification and burial of family members as well as to prosecute the perpetrators of the violence. The delegation also met two survivors of the “death march” one of who had actually been led to his death and shot in a mass execution but survived.
To be invited as part of a delegation was a huge privilege. It was both immensely harrowing and inspiring at the same time. The atrocities committed on the women, men and children are beyond any understanding but the strength of the survivors and the courage to bring the perpetrators to justice is humbling beyond words.
What these people have been through and indeed what they are continuing to go through in a political environment that is still very unstable is beyond any real description.
Kezia Dugdale, one of the delegation, has published an article in the Herald which can be read here.
If you would like to donate to Remembering Srebrenica (Scotland) please do so using the following details:-
Bank Account No: 20370778 / Sort Code: 608301 - Unity Trust Bank. You can also Click here to make a Gift Aid Declaration.
Elaine Motion, Chairman and Partner