Corporate assistants seconded to different departments
Linklaters & Alliance is seconding a group of corporate assistants into its regulatory department as it battles against an M&A slowdown. Four transactional lawyers have already been moved out to work in the financial services regulation and complex derivatives groups, and there are plans to move more. It is believed that the firm is the first in the magic circle to take action against disappearing workloads in its corporate group. Head of corporate David Cheyne said: "The mainstream corporate department is not as busy as it was last year, so we've moved a couple of people over to where the pressure is more intense." He said that the derivatives group was busy, as they handle the sort of transactions that clients look at when they are short of money. The Financial Services and Markets Act, which comes into force in November, means the regulatory group is also busy. The secondments will last until the pressure eases. Cheyne, though, said that it would probably go on for at least three months. But competitors said that moving lawyers from transactional work into regulatory would be unpopular. A rival magic circle corporate partner said: "If we said to our transactional lawyers, 'Go and work in financial regulation', they'd say, 'Why, what have I done wrong?' It doesn't appeal to them - you'd need quite a strong whip." Partners at both Clifford Chance and Slaughter and May said it was unlikely that they would consider such a move. One competitor said: "I wouldn't move people around, because they've chosen an area they want to be in, so they won't be happy if you shift them around." Cheyne said: "If any part of the business got relatively busy, then other areas will move people around. Corporate is quite a bit quieter than it was last year, but last year it was absolutely ghastly. Clearly, we'd like more work, but people are reasonably busy." Linklaters' financial services group boasts around 30 lawyers, while the mainstream corporate practice has well over 200. Cheyne said that when the lawyers return to mainstream corporate work, their financial regulatory experience will be a useful addition.