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Slaughters is quietly reshaping its partnership for a post-crunch, Asia-centric era
Slaughter and May has always been conservative, setting itself apart from the magic circle with its three-stop-shop policy and consistently high profitability.
So when change comes, it comes so slowly that many outsiders fail to notice. But take a closer look and you will see a partnership revolution of sorts in full throttle.
When senior partner Chris Saul took over in January 2008, replacing Tim Clark, the firm was home to 132 partners while promotions that year stood at an acceptable five. Then the world changed as the economy tanked.
Slaughters rode out the slump without a public announcement concerning lawyer layoffs. There was a pay freeze in 2009 and, in 2012 the firm cut 28 secretarial staff.
Meanwhile, partner numbers fell as lawyers lined up for retirement. By 2012/13 the firm was home to 117 partners, with two more retirements on the cards this year.
At the same time the opportunity for promotion ground almost to a half, with just two added per year in 2010, 2012 and 2013. The anomaly was 2011, when five were promoted.
Many will see this year’s bumper crop of nine promotions – the most for a decade, with two in Asia – as rebuilding for the next generation. This is underlined by the firm’s first Asia lateral hire in Hong Kong, capital markets partner John Moore from Morrison & Foerster.
When Saul hands over the reins he will leave a partnership quite different from the one he inherited. It’s a revolution, Slaughters-style.