Slaughter and May is set to expand its best friends network to Central and Eastern Europe to take advantage of the EU accession economies.
A delegation of senior figures from Bonelli Erede Pappalardo, Bredin Prat, Hengeler Mueller, Slaughters and Uría Ménendez were organising a series of meetings in Prague last week, which were timed to coincide with the International Bar Association conference.
Slaughters senior partner Tim Clark told The Lawyer: "We've got to get to the position where, when you're doing a deal, you can pull a team together in Eastern Europe as well as you can in Western Europe."
The best friends grouping is understood to be hunting for correspondent firms, particularly in Poland, the Czech Republic and Russia. Slaughters has previously worked on an ad hoc basis with firms such as Wardynski & Partners in Poland and Glatzova & Co in the Czech Republic.
Slaughters projects partner Paul Stacey has responsibility for maintaining relationships with firms in Central and Eastern Europe.
Although Slaughters continues to proclaim its independent status, the move underlines a growing focus on international relationships by the elite UK firm.
Slaughters closed in New York and Singapore in 2004, but has ramped up its best friends alliance with Australian firm Allens Arthur Robinson (AAR), which began in September 2001. Slaughters' Singapore work has since been channelled through AAR in its entirety.