The secret to UK firm Slaughter and May's success

February 21, 2011 Slaughter and May is among the most profitable law firms in London, paying its 126 partners an average of £1.84m for their efforts despite posting sales at £439.5m, roughly half that of larger rivals such Linklaters or Clifford Chance.

One reasons for this success include the fact that, unlike its rivals, the firm did not expand overseas and does not carry large overheads in tough times. Instead, the firm pursued ‘best friends’ relationships with other top law firms like Hengeler Mueller in Germany or Cravath, Swaine & Moore in the US, under which the firms would cooperate and share work. The flexibility of these arrangements has meant that the firm has not had to make any redundancies for its 1,200 staff (including 733 lawyers) since the financial crisis began.

But the main reason for Slaughter and May’s success is its client list. The firm acts for 28 FTSE 100 companies - more than any other rival - and is also very good at getting government work. “There are two key drivers behind this,” says Senior Partner Chris Saul. “The quality of the team here and the genuine sense of collegiality among the partners. These factors mean that we are able to advise creatively and proactively on some of the most challenging deals, financings and disputes.”

He also adds that lawyers at Slaughters are trained as “generalists” in all areas of the law, so when the lucrative mergers and acquisitions side of the business slows down they can turn their hands to restructurings, regulation or competition law. We are not stuffed full of “deal junkies” here, he says.

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