Slaughters and Hengeler lock horns over best friend choices

Slaughters and Hengeler lock horns over best friend choicesSlaughter and May is expanding its best friends network into Russia, India and the Middle East, but it has refused to commit to the new best friends of German ally Hengeler Mueller.

Hengeler, which founded the European best friends group with Slaughters, has just entered into a best friends arrangement with Moscow’s Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners (EPA), but Slaughters wants to maintain closer ties with Pepeliaev Goltsblat & Partners (PGP) and Alrud.

Slaughters senior partner Chris Saul said: “There’s a degree of necessary fluidity about these things [best friends] and people develop relationships at different speeds.”

Saul added that the best friends network does not preclude any of its members forming?independent relationships. Slaughters works with a number of Russian independents as well as international firms that have strong presences in the country.

“Our dealings so far have involved jobs and relationships with PGP and Alrud,” said Saul. Slaughters has yet to work with EPA.

The firms are also busy forging ties in India. While Slaughters?maintains relationships with a number of different-sized firms, Hengeler favours Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co, which has a similar independent, quality-focused outlook to the European best friends.

Hengeler?partner Rainer Krause said: “Our relationship with Amarchand isn’t exclusive, but it’s definitely a privileged one.”

Saul pointed out that Slaughters works closely with Amarchand but also has strong relationships with firms such as AZB & Partners, J Sagar Associates, Desai & Diwanji and Nitish Desai Associates.

The final frontier will be the Middle East. Although Hengeler said it will be several years before best friend relationships are formalised in the region, Slaughters has already established relationships with Dubai firms Afridi & Angell, Al Tamimi & Company and Hadef Al Dhahiri & Associates.

“We’re doing jobs with these?firms?and?have secondments?into?the region,” said Saul. “It’s the same principle of building relationships.”

Slaughters’ and Hengeler’s core European best friends are Italy’s Bonelli Erede Pappalardo, France’s Bredin Prat and Spanish firm Uría Menéndez. All five moved into a shared office in Brussels in 2006.