While most City firms are seeking to offload personnel from their corporate departments, Slaughter and May has bucked the trend by recruiting new corporate assistants

The team headed by Nigel Boardman has taken on two assistants in the last two weeks and is looking for another lawyer. Boardman's group has just been instructed on Wal-Mart's contesting bid for Safeway.

Boardman said the assistants were taken on as part of the firm's long-term plan. “We recruit whatever the market. If there are good people there we like to take them,” he said.

Slaughters has not performed well in M&A recently, but Boardman insisted that business has held up. “Our position is slightly different from some of the others. That's partly because we didn't expand quickly,” he said.