Agnes Stevenson meets Glen Gilson, Chairman and Managing Partner of Gilson Gray, a serial winner of accolades at The Herald Law Awards for Scotland and one of Scotland’s fastest growing law firms.

When Glen Gilson won the ‘Up and Coming’ category at The Law Awards for Scotland in 2008, he was a key part of a team that had grown the private client business of major law firm HBJ from just a handful of solicitors to a staff of more than 90 in just a few years.

At the time, his success, both in practice and in the awards, was a clear indicator of his appetite for shaking up the legal landscape in Scotland and sixteen years later the potential recognised by that early accolade has been more than realised as he is now Chairman and Managing partner of one of the country’s fastest growing legal firms.

This year alone, Gilson Gray, which he founded in 2014, has acquired legal practices in both Dundee and Edinburgh and it has made key appointments to its own marketing and business development divisions.

With offices in Glasgow, Aberdeen, East Lothian and also Lincoln, Gilson Gray is reversing the trend which has seen English legal firms expand north, something which Gilson believes is a potential threat to Scottish legal sovereignty.

“There is a risk that decisions taken outside of the sector are made without full understanding of the Scottish market.”

The reasons behind his own firm’s rapid expansion are in part driven by a determination to be large enough to attract the very best talent and here he has very clear ideas about the sort of candidates he is seeking.

“At Gilson Gray we have a dynamic and driven culture. We are not interested in colour, creed, gender or orientation, we want the people that can move fast to deliver an exceptional service to our clients. Character is key.”

A clear indication of how successful Gilson Gray has been at finding the right people is the fact that the firm has won many accolades at The Herald Law Awards for Scotland, including Litigation Team and also Debt Recovery Team for the past two years running.

These awards, says Gilson, are all the more relevant because they are recognition from peers from within the Scottish legal sector and he would encourage other lawyers and legal firms to participate in them as well.

“Lawyers are self-regulating and they care about what other lawyers think about them, they want to test themselves against members of the profession and The Herald Law Awards for Scotland allow them to do that.”

Gilson himself is a passionate advocate of anything that supports that profession and of the entire Scottish business community and he has spoken openly in the past about the need for the Government, both within Scotland and across the UK, to be much more focused on the needs of the country’s business sector.

“This is in no way a partisan position, it is about the fact that business generates jobs. We have to safeguard the best interests of the economic future of this country and that involves being realistic about where money is produced. Business pays for taxation and taxes pay for everything. Yet politicians are making it hard for businesses because they are chasing popular agendas and aren’t prepared to make tough, but necessary, decisions. Carry on this way and we will suffer greatly, through a brain drain and a drop in GDP, so we need to work this out quickly.”

Momentum is Gilson’s favoured position, it is what has elevated him at speed through the ranks to become a senior figure in the Scottish legal landscape. Now he wants to see the same pace of change being applied by those who make the rules in which companies like his own are operating.

This year The Herald Law Awards for Scotland will mark their 20th anniversary and it is our pleasure to revisit past winners who have continued to make their mark on the Scottish legal sector, inspiring others in their field, and showcasing the talent we have across the country. The awards, sponsored by Idex Consulting, The Law Society of Scotland, and Stirling Park, are now open for entry. There are 16 categories to enter this year including the Up and Coming Award previously won by Glen, whilst Solicitor of the Year sponsored by The Law Society of Scotland will award those individuals with significant legal skills and innovative approaches. Litigation Team of the Year and Debt Recovery Team of the Year, both sponsored by Stirling Park remain steadfast categories, along with the coveted Law Firm of the Year awards sponsored by Idex Consulting. More details on the exciting plans to mark the special anniversary year will be announced shortly.

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