Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s move to formalise its referral relationships with national firms has moved a step nearer, with the magic circle outfit working alongside Mills & Reeve on the first matter since the initiative began in the summer.
In June Freshfields confirmed that it was engaged in informal discussions with a handful of firms, including Mills & Reeve and TLT Solicitors, with a view to establishing a discrete network of referral firms.
Neither Freshfields nor Mills & Reeve would divulge any details of the deal they are working on, but confirmed that it is the first since talks about the arrangement began.
TLT said it has not received any referral work from Freshfields since the plan was first mooted.
Freshfields London managing partner Tim Jones, who is leading the initiative, said that although the firm has referred work in a similar way “hundreds of times before”, this was the first time it had attempted to formalise a relationship.
“It’s something worth trying and we’ll see how it works,” said Jones. “We think there’s some interest in this [from clients], but there’s a lot still to think about in terms of how we structure it.”
However, he added that the limited availability of suitable transactions has contributed to the slow progress of the referral talks.
“There isn’t the flow of deals at the moment,” he admitted.
Cambridge corporate head Tom Pickthorn is leading the relationship from the Mills & Reeve side.