Lawyers stay neutral over Scottish independence

Scotland is preparing to go to the polls to decide the country's future on September 18th.

The latest YouGov survey has the Yes camp leading by 51 per cent to 49 per cent, the first time it has usurped the Better Together campaign. Indeed, the former was more than 20 percentage points behind only one month ago.

Such is the concern among the main parties that David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have all made the journey north in an effort to convince Scots of the need to keep the country in the United Kingdom.

While much of the debate has rightly focused on the economic and political reasons for either becoming independent or remaining part of the union, the majority of law firms have remained tight lipped about their intentions.

What do law firms think about Scottish independence?

Morton Fraser chief executive Chris Harte told The Lawyer his firm is adopting a position of neutrality - as did every other firm interviewed by the magazine - in an effort to sidestep what has been a "relatively febrile atmosphere".

"It's important we recognise we have clients who have different views - it would be wrong of us to indicate that there's a single homogenous view," he added.

The Scottish government has already announced it hopes to have a new legal framework in place for July 2015 that would last for four years, but the issue of independence looms large. It will be the first time legal services will be procured collaboratively for the whole of the Scottish central government sector.

A number of sectors, including commercial and corporate law, debt recovery; employment and inquiries, major projects and property, are set to be covered by the new agreement.

With major businesses coming out both in favour of and against independence, it's clear it is going to a tightly-contested vote. And law firms in the UK will be looking on with bated breath to see how the fallout affects them.