Legal duo launches bold firm for under-served clients in north-east

Rob Aberdein

Renowned pair say it’s time to put ordinary Aberdonians at the heart of service

TWO of the best-known legal names in the north-east have joined forces to launch a new law practice – and say they are already seeing interest from locals interested in the new offering.

Esson & Aberdein will be led by Joni Esson, who spent more than 10 years at Stronachs, and Rob Aberdein, who has gone on to become one of Scotland’s most prominent businessmen since leaving Aberdein Considine.

They say there is a significant gap in the market for a new firm committed to bringing technology and innovation to the industry, and insist services must be less transactional and focused on building long-term, meaningful relationships with clients.

Joni, a mum-of-one who grew up in Aberdeenshire and has lived in the city for many years, said: “Everybody needs a lawyer at some point in their lives. Usually that involves a milestone like taking your first step on the property ladder, moving as families grow to planning ahead to ensure your loved ones are looked after in the event of your death. Nobody should have to accept second best in situations like those.

“Many larger firms throughout Scotland have corporate and commercial clients as their main focus – which means ordinary people can be pretty far down the priority list.

“It is time private clients were put back at the front of our thoughts, so that is exactly what Esson & Aberdein will be doing. We’ll be totally focused on the city and Aberdeenshire, which is also something that is important to people in the north-east.

“This project is so exciting, because a new law firm like this is what Aberdeen has missed over the years.”

The firm will formally launch on April 26 and will open offices in the city’s West End. A series of appointments of key personnel are expected over the coming weeks.

Joni, who spent a decade building up the property credentials of Stronachs, is a former pupil of Mintlaw Academy who studied law at Dundee University. She added: “At first it will mainly be property-related work we are doing, but we have big plans to offer a full suite of client services.”

Fellow lawyer Rob Aberdein is also bullish about the prospects of success in his hometown – where he oversaw significant growth for Aberdein Considine before becoming the youngest ever equity partner at English legal powerhouse, Walker Morris.

In late 2020 he launched the new Scottish professional services umbrella company, Moray Group, focused on using the latest technology to improve the experience of clients across property, law and finance. Esson & Aberdein will now be part of its stable of firms, which includes the legal and property specialist Simpson & Marwick in Edinburgh and East Lothian.

Rob added: “We are offering what people here are looking for and Joni is already getting work referred to her locally. I fully expect Aberdeen will go like a fair, despite the challenges in the oil and gas sector.

“Aberdeen has a lot of legacy firms that have been around for 100 years in various incarnations and are still trading despite themselves. There’s another generation of firms that did well during the oil boom and were lucky to be in a market when there was a lot of work. That blunted competitiveness.

“There are firms with good businesses, whose success has seen them reach a national level, making it harder to retain a local feel.

“Private client is a space that nobody has effectively owned. We’re bringing a fresh – albeit highly recognisable – brand – and a real focus and commitment to normal everyday people in Aberdeen and the north-east. It’s not about big corporate clients or PLCs. It’s that personal property, legal, financial set of services and meaningful, long-term client relationships that we are after.

“The scale and size of things isn’t that important. It’s not about being big, because big isn’t necessarily better.“

Since being launched in September, Moray Group has acquired Simpson & Marwick, which is now its pre-eminent legal brand which it is rolling out across Scotland. It also acquired volume conveyancing and debt recovery specialist, Alston Law in Glasgow

With a turnover in excess of £5m and 70 staff, further growth through acquisition is planned with the group eyeing property letting, accountancy and financial services, as well as other law firms.

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