Slaughter and May has put Asia at the heart of its international agenda by sending corporate partner George Goulding to Hong Kong to deepen relationships with its three Chinese best friends.
Slaughters has close referral relationships with Haiwan Law Firm, Jun He Law Offices and King & Wood.
Slaughters senior partner Tim Clark told The Lawyer: "We've spent about two years looking at this. The market's developing very rapidly. These firms are of major size and high quality."
The top practices in Beijing and Shanghai are not only sought after by both US and UK firms targeting mainland China, but are also expansionist themselves. Beijing-based Jun He merged with Hong Kong firm XJ Wang & Co in July this year in a bid to deepen its pan-China coverage. Clark said: "We'd hope that when [our best friends] have work outside China they'd come to us, but we'll have to persuade them."
Slaughters also operates best friend relationships with firms in Korea, the Philippines and Taiwan.
In recent years Slaughters has attached greater importance to its best friend firms overseas. In 2005 it transferred the majority of its French partners to Paris ally Bredin Prat and ceded much of its Singapore operation to Australian ally Allens Arthur Robinson three years previously.