Slaughter and May
UK Top 200 position: 10
Slaughter and May senior partner Chris Saul claimed it had been a 'robust' year for the firm but admitted mergers and acquisitions (M&A) had been 'patchy'.
Certainly Slaughters won some notably chunky sell-side mandates, for instance on Samsung Electronics’ $310m (£196m) acquisition of UK chipmaker CSR’s mobile technology development business and Japanese advertiser Dentsu’s £3.2bn purchase of UK rival Aegis Group.
But the global downturn has forced Slaughter and May to look outside its usual sources of fee income.
Its contentious practice has been busy: the firm, for instance, advised Standard Chartered on its $340m settlement with the New York State Department of Financial Services over allegations that it hid Iranian transactions.
Other areas such as competition, regulatory, financing and energy have come to the fore too, with the firm acting for YTL Power International Berhad on its acquisition of a 43 per cent interest in YTL Jawa Power. Emerging markets have become more important too: it advised Kosmos Energy on the Jubilee Project and the government of Botswana on its diamond production.
The firm has lost ground in Asia as a result of its best-friends strategy, but it is still focused on the key hubs: it made up Hong Kong disputes associate Mark Hughes to the partnership this year in a two-strong global promotions round. In Australia, it has turned to a new strategy of working with four preferred firms: Clayton Utz, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Gilbert & Tobin and Minter Ellison.
Slaughters’ overall staff headcount dropped marginally from 1,308 to 1,301 in 2011–12, while fee-earner count fell from 752 to 746. Lawyer numbers dropped from 561 to 553. The overall partnership shrunk by two per cent from 125 to 122, with the equity partner count falling three per cent from 122 to 118.
Saul admitted the firm has not been hiring as vigorously as it did a year or two ago to the extent that it does not currently ask partners to snap up outside talent like it normally would.
Executive partner Graham White has announced his intention to retire in April, while the management team of senior partner Saul and practice partner Paul Olney have been appointed to continue until 2016. White is currently involved in finding his replacement.
News from The Lawyer
Overview1 Bunhill Row
Turnover (£m): 426
PEP (£k): 1,780
EPP (£k): 1,738
Total lawyers: 553
Total partners: 122