Slaughters and Hengeler set for client integration

Best friends to explore joint conflict-checking in bid to present united front to international clients

Slaughter and May is stepping up its relationship with best friend Hengeler Mueller by exploring joint conflict-checking systems in a bid to present a united face externally.

The two firms have already exchanged lists of their top 100 clients in an attempt to integrate their businesses further.

The highly symbolic move, which The Lawyer understands is in its preliminary stages, is being spearheaded by senior partner Tim Clark, corporate partners Nigel Boardman and Steve Cook and Hengeler Mueller partner Ulrich Blech.

The initiative is in such early stages that it is unclear whether it will be rolled out for the rest of Slaughters' best friends network.

However, the move underlines the need for independent firms to combat the issue of perceived seamless client service provided by magic circle law firms.

Slaughters corporate partner Nigel Boardman told The Lawyer: “The question is, how can we be as business-model efficient as a one-stop shop?

“We're trying to provide a match in every respect to the one-stop shops and provide that extra quality on top.”

Blech commented: “We're looking forward as to how to develop it, but that has to be balanced against the concept of being independent.”

Anglo-German conflicts on major M&A trans-actions have been few and far between. Ironically, however, Slaughters benefited from one of the few high-profile conflicts last year.

It displaced Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer from acting for Powergen on its deal with E.ON after it emerged that the Freshfields German side was already the long-term adviser for E.ON.