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Suzanne Townley

News Editor, Solicitors Journal

End of an era: final founding family member leaves firm, breaking 145-year tradition

End of an era: final founding family member leaves firm, breaking 145-year tradition


Respected litigator, Steven Blane, takes over as senior partner

Edinburgh-firm, Urquharts, has announced its senior partner, Roderick Urquhart, is set to retire, breaking a 145-year link between the Urquhart family and the firm that bears its name. 

The firm was established by Andrew Urquhart in 1876. He chose a legal career, rather than following in the footsteps of his own father, who captained tea clippers journeying from China to the north-east of Scotland.

In 1911, Andrew’s son, William, joined the firm, establishing the firm as property specialists and overseeing a move to Heriot Row. His son Ronald joined in 1952, followed by Roderick in 1982.

Roderick’s retirement will mark the end of a long link between the firm and its founding family. However, the firm has said it remains committed to “traditional levels of service” and have promised there will be no “dramatic changes".

Stephen Blane will take over as senior partner. Blane is a solicitor advocate, a litigator and a Law Society accredited specialist pursuing professional negligence claims against other lawyers. He said: “A number of people have asked us if this is a chance for us to modernise and shake things up.

“There is absolutely no need for that. We are extremely well prepared for Roderick’s departure and… there won’t be any radical changes. We will very much continue as we are, while keeping an eye on what we can do to improve the already high level of personal service that we offer.”

Blane explained that transactions at the firm are partner-led and there is no plan to move away from this approach: “If you instruct someone, you instruct the partner first and foremost and it is not delegated to the most junior person in the firm. 

“Partners remain engaged and involved and take a direct interest in everything from start to finish.”

The firm has been preparing for Urquhart’s retirement for 18 months. In April 2020, the firm hired partner, Alison Grandison. Grandison is residential conveyancing specialist, one of the firm’s key areas of focus. 

Urquhart commented: “I’ve enjoyed my time with the firm and I’m incredibly proud of all that we achieved and of the quality of the team who will now take Urquharts forward. 

“There may no longer be an Urquhart in the firm, but I’m delighted that the same values will continue to underpin everything that it does.”