We continue to attract talented lawyers from a wide variety of backgrounds whose contribution goes beyond providing technical legal advice of the highest quality. At Shepherd and Wedderburn we are committed to fostering an inclusive culture because we believe our clients, colleagues and business are best served by a diverse workforce, with the multiplicity of experiences, ideas and perspectives this brings.
No one played a greater part in Shepherd and Wedderburn’s transformation into one of Scotland’s most successful full-service law firms than Ernest Wedderburn. He was born in 1884, one of 14 children of Alexander Wedderburn, Medical Officer of Health for the county of Forfar (now Angus). Ernest attended the University of Edinburgh, graduating MA in 1904 and LLB in 1907. He was admitted as a Writer to the Signet later that year and assumed as a partner in Carment, Wedderburn & Watson in 1908.
During the Great War he was a captain in the Royal Engineers and served as principal meteorological officer at Gallipoli and Salonika. He devised a simple but effective method of calculating the allowance to be made for ballistic winds on the trajectory of long range artillery shells – a method almost universally adopted in the later stages of the war. Towards the end of hostilities, he became Assistant Director of Experiments at the Shoeburyness military establishment in Essex, under the Ordinance Committee. He was twice mentioned in dispatches and was awarded the OBE (military division).
Following his return from the war, Ernest was appointed Professor of Conveyancing at the University of Edinburgh, a post he held until 1935, when he was appointed Deputy Keeper of the Signet (DKS) and, as such, head of the WS Society. He was knighted in the 1934 New Year’s Honours list.
Before the Law Society of Scotland was founded in 1949, the legal profession was regulated by the General Council of Solicitors in Scotland. Ernest was chairman of the General Council from 1936 to 1949. He was instrumental in the formation of the Law Society of Scotland in 1949, serving as president in its first year, and retired as DKS in 1953. He died in 1958 while still a partner in the firm.
William 'Bill' Bowes started work at Shepherd and Wedderburn in 1937 as an office junior, joining straight from school, aged 14. Called up in 1941, he joined the army as an engineer and later served as a sergeant in the Signals. He returned to the firm in 1946. He did not have the privileged background common among solicitors of his generation but, encouraged by Sir Ernest Wedderburn, he studied for his legal degree and later qualified as a solicitor. This was no easy road to follow for a young married man with a growing family, though Bill was able to negotiate an uplift in the standard apprentice’s pay of £26 per annum in the first year, rising to £40 by the third year. Specialising in executry and trust work, Bill later developed a wide and successful practice. His principal concern was for his clients’ interests and providing the best service possible. Bill was assumed as a partner in 1967 and was admitted as a Writer to the Signet that year. This was a breath of fresh air for the firm and the beginning of a commitment to diversity that endures to the present day. The firm’s S+W Together initiative comprises working groups – LGBTIA; Gender; Healthy Working Lives + Disability; Race, Faith + Beliefs; and Social Mobility – committed to ensuring diversity and inclusion across the firm.
In many ways the outstanding figure in the firm in the post-war era, George Henry was born in Bothwell, Lanarkshire, in 1910. The son of an army sergeant, George attended Broughton School in Edinburgh and, at the age of 16, joined the small Edinburgh law firm of A&AS Gordon as a clerk, later taking a part-time law degree at the University of Edinburgh. He graduated in 1932 with distinction and honours certificates in every subject.
George was then invited by Sir Ernest Wedderburn to join the staff at Shepherd and Wedderburn as his personal assistant. Within a year, aged 23, he was appointed as the firm’s principal conveyancing assistant, holding this post until he was assumed as a partner in 1946. He was admitted as a Writer to the Signet in 1939.
Called up in 1941, George joined the RAF and was commissioned as an air crew navigator for night fighters (fighter aircraft specially adapted to fly at night), serving in North Africa until 1944. He was then put in charge of the navigational school at an advanced night fighter training unit in the UK, and was later closely involved with the RAF Benevolent Fund, acting as its Scottish solicitor until his retirement.
George developed a wide commercial practice, undertaking a heavy volume of work for clients such as the South of Scotland Electricity Board (the state-owned forerunner of ScottishPower) and the Board of Trade. In 1955, he was appointed Chair of Conveyancing at the University of Edinburgh. He had a strict work ethic, arriving early at the office, setting up his day’s work, lecturing at the university and then returning to the office mid-morning to continue his professional duties.
In the late 1950s, George became actively involved in law reform and chaired a specialist committee tasked with producing detailed proposals for a scheme of registration of land title. This led to the introduction of the system of land registration since adopted throughout Scotland.
Ivor Guild was one of the best-known and respected solicitors of his generation. He was a partner in the firm for 44 years, though his interests extended far beyond the confines of his practice into many aspects of public life. He was prominent in the business community, having been a director and chairman of several leading investment trusts. He also held a number of high offices in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and he was Procurator Fiscal to the Court of the Lord Lyon – Scotland’s oldest court – for 34 years. Ivor served on several government committees, including the Council on Tribunals, as chairman of its Scottish Committee, and as a member of the Interception of Communications Tribunal.
Born in Dundee in 1924, Ivor was the son of Arthur Guild, a Dundee stockbroker. He was also a nephew of Reginald Guild, and great nephew of John Erskine Guild, both of whom were key figures in the firm’s history. Ivor was also the last partner in the firm who was also a member of one of the founding families. He was educated at Cargilfield, Rugby and New College, Oxford, before gaining his LLB at the University of Edinburgh. He qualified as a solicitor and was admitted as a Writer of the Signet in 1949. The following year he was assumed as a partner in the firm.
In 1964, Ivor became a director of the Dundee-based First Scottish American Investment Trust and Northern American Investment Trust. He was chairman of both trusts from 1973 until 1994. He was also chairman of Edinburgh Investment Trust from 1972 to 1994. Ivor was appointed CBE in 1985 and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1990.
Following the Iranian Revolution, Ivor accompanied the late Tam Dalyell MP on a trip to the Holy City of Qom to meet the country’s religious leaders as an “ecclesiastical and theological adviser”.
Although a frugal man, he was generous to others and unobtrusively supported many charitable causes. Ivor had a wide circle of friends and a sharp and cynical sense of humour. From 1957, he lived in a small apartment in Edinburgh’s New Club, one of only nine people listed on the electoral roll as living in the city’s best-known thoroughfare, and was dubbed the ‘Duke of Princes Street’ by the press. He never owned a car and walked almost everywhere in the city, whatever the weather. Ivor, who died in 2015, was one of the great characters of his age.
Paul Hally is Chairman of Shepherd and Wedderburn, responsible for oversight and governance of the firm and maintaining and promoting its values and reputation.
He was educated at Perth High School and studied law at the University of Edinburgh, going on to train at Fyfe Ireland and then joining Shepherd and Wedderburn in 1984 as a corporate assistant. He was assumed as a partner in 1987 working in the corporate department.
Paul was appointed Chief Executive in 1999 and held the position for five years before returning to general practice as Head of Finance and Restructuring. He was elected Chairman in October 2014 and was re-elected by the partnership for a second, three-year term in November 2017.
One of Scotland's best-known corporate and restructuring lawyers, Paul is a senior member of the corporate finance team and is a licensed Insolvency Practitioner. He maintains an active client base, built over a successful 34 years in commercial practice, providing legal and strategic advice to clients in the funds, financial services, banking and energy sectors.
Paul also acts as an independent expert reporter on significant corporate transactions to the Court of Session in Edinburgh, most notably, the de-mutualisation of Standard Life and the de-merger of TSB from Lloyds Banking Group.
Paul is Convenor of the Business Policy Panel of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and is a member of its Policy Leadership Board and Brexit Panels.
As a founder director of the World Services Group, our multi-disciplinary international professional services network comprising more than 130 member firms, Paul has first-hand knowledge of our member firms worldwide and is one of our key ambassadors.
Stephen Gibb is Chief Executive of Shepherd and Wedderburn and is responsible for the management and strategic direction of the business.
Stephen was born in Glasgow, attending King’s Park Secondary School before studying law at the University of Glasgow. He joined Bird Semple Crawford Herron in 1986, qualifying as a solicitor in 1988 and then working in its London office as a corporate specialist, where he qualified in England & Wales. Following that firm’s demerger in 1994, Stephen returned to Scotland, becoming a partner that year in Fyfe Ireland until he was headhunted in 1999 by Shepherd and Wedderburn. Stephen was appointed Head of Corporate in 2004. His practice involved advising a variety of UK and overseas clients on corporate matters, including joint ventures, acquisitions and reorganisations, with a focus on the renewables, property, drinks and leisure industries.
In 2009, Stephen was appointed Deputy Chief Executive, implementing many of the structural and strategic changes that were required following the global financial crisis, and was elected Chief Executive in 2012. Stephen has overseen several firm milestones during his tenure as Chief Executive, including the acquisition of Tods Murray in October 2014, which significantly expanded the firm’s banking and finance, private client and rural practices and added strength to others, and in January 2017 the acquisition of The Commercial Law Practice, enhancing the firm’s offering in Aberdeen.
Stephen has been instrumental in the modernisation of Shepherd and Wedderburn, and has been a driving force in promoting diversity and inclusion within the business, including S+W Together, Shepherd and Wedderburn's umbrella diversity group.
Our lawyers are privileged to work with clients who are leaders in their industries and sectors, in Scotland, the UK and abroad. We are currently supporting businesses in more than 100 jurisdictions, advising on specific projects, helping them expand their overseas operations or supporting them in entering new markets.
Building on our unremitting focus on clients and the contribution they make to the economy, we have commissioned The University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute to undertake a major research project to help Scottish businesses, organisations and entrepreneurs best position themselves for the future. We have used fresh insights drawn from economic data and long-term global growth forecasts to inform a conversation with our clients and key industry contacts, which will help identify how they – and Scotland – can mitigate the challenges and seize the opportunities in the years ahead against the backdrop of a rapidly-evolving global economy.Find out more