Herbies: Free(hills) to do what it wants any old time

So Herbert Smith’s strategy of playing catch-up with the rest of its big City chums continues apace, with a mid-June vote on its proposed tie-up deal with Australian firm Freehills now inked in.

If the tie-up gets the green light from both firms, expect an October 2012 link up. As is increasingly the way these days – thank you Norton Rose – the two firms won’t befinancially integrated on day one, but could look at a full merger in the future.

Of course with Herbies and mergers, nothing is ever certain. As one commentator on TheLawyer.com recently put it: “A “loose association” is precisely the last thing they’d want, one would have thought, bearing in mind their experience of such arrangements in the past”.

The prevailing wind for most big firms is to get bigger (with the exception of Dewey, where the stream of losses is now a torrent).

It’s a trend that makes next Monday’s in-depth feature on the varying fortunes of Slaughters’ best friends approach, particularly in China, required reading (not least for one Christopher Saul).