Firms’ friendship

Linklaters’ leveraged buyout team has done remarkably well to become many senior lenders’ third choice after Allen & Overy (A&O) and Clifford Chance. But it’s not all about getting in with the banks. Cannily enough, the young leveraged finance team seems to have realised that referrals from other firms are just as important.

Cue a cosy little relationship which has started to grow between Clifford Chance and Linklaters. The former’s stellar private equity practice has given CC some power in picking lawyers on the senior debt side. And what’s this? Virtually all Permira’s recent deals have had Linklaters acting for the banks rather than A&O. There was the $1.335bn (£720m) Inmarsat mega-transaction last October, following hard on the heels of Permira’s €155m (£108.3m) Rodenstock deal that September. Presumably Clifford Chance has got over the shock of Linklaters tempting away young star Stephen Lucas earlier this year, because sources say the referrals are still coming thick and fast.

Offshoring – it’s a sure thing

There’s a feeling among those who know that the dam is about to break. Clients have been doing it for years, and the CBI’s Digby Jones only recently raised fears about its levels in the wider market.

We’re talking about outsourcing, and more specifically offshoring, farming out your back office, non-core functions to far-flung places such as Chennai, Mumbai and Madras. Lawyers, typically the most cautious animals on the planet, are waking up to the 30 per cent-plus cost savings that can be achieved. No surprise, then, that the people that advise lawyers have also cottoned on.

Over the summer Hildebrandt struck a joint venture deal with Office Tiger, the outsourcing company that took on much of Allen & Overy’s secretarial function and Linklaters’ document production. Milbank’s also done it – and you can bet Clifford Chance won’t be far behind. Now sit back and watch the rest of the market follow suit.

Flies on the wall

Fladgate Fielder’s property team has had to cope with more distractions than usual of late. Last week, the department was overrun by some unwanted squatters of a winged variety when an infestation of fruit flies overtook the practice group’s offices on the first floor of the firm’s premises at 25 North Row.

The infestation of the small winged bugs was said to be so bad that the property team was forced to down tools while it searched for the source of the infestation.

Allen Cohen, head of property at Fladgate Fielder, admitted that a search of the premises had failed to locate the root of the problem. However, he said the team hoped the problem would be solved by 15 November as specialists had been called in to fumigate and clean the carpets of the offices over the weekend.

It has been speculated that the infestation could have been caused by an untidy lawyer leaving some fruit in a desk drawer before going on holiday.

A lawyer close to Fladgates questions whether the old adage really was true, that ‘time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana’.

Get Grapevine and the latest news delivered straight to your desktop every Wednesday by subscribing to Lawyer News Weekly. Register at