Slaughter and May is playing the field in the Netherlands by reviving its relationship with old flame and former Linklaters ally De Brauw Blackstone & Westbroek, while at the same time maintaining links with existing best friend Nauta Dutilh.
A Slaughters partner confirmed that it now regards itself as having two Dutch best friends. The source said: "It means we have greater referral opportunities back into us. We expect to get a very good share of what they have to give. This is all very recent. We're friendly with both firms and both know that. It's only good news that there are two top-quality independent firms."
To its advantage, De Brauw can boast mutual relationships with Slaughters clients Royal Dutch/Shell and Unilever. Slaughters has a historic relationship with De Brauw, but contacts were put on hold when De Brauw joined Linklaters & Alliance in 1998. The future of that relationship was scuppered in April 2002, when the Dutch partners voted almost unanimously against merging with Linklaters. De Brauw subsequently set up a taskforce to re-establish referral relationships with Slaughters and with AmLaw 100 firms.
A source at Nauta said: "I can understand that De Brauw has taken up its contacts with Slaughters again. It doesn't surprise me and I can see what's in it for both of them."