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Slaughter and May’s network of top Continental firms is edging towards a self-standing alliance after a strategy meeting in Milan last month.Although Slaughters, US firm Davis Polk & Wardwell and Germany’s Hengeler Mueller Weitzel Wirtz are already close allies, their four other main referral firms in Europe are now stepping up their co-operation beyond bi-lateral relations.Until now the firms chosen for referral by Slaughters have had minimal contact with one another outside of their relationship with the three core firms: Slaughters, Davis Polk and Hengeler Mueller.Significantly, the meeting in Milan saw all the managing partners of the allies gather together as part of a single club operating as corporate leaders in each of their jurisdictions.The Continental outer circle of allies are French firm Bredin Prat, Italian practice Bonelli Erede Pappallardo, Spain’s Uria & Menendez and Nauta Dutilh in the Netherlands.Stibbe Simont Monahan Duhot is also a long standing ‘best friend’ of Slaughters, but after continued instability at the firm, it has become a secondary referral firm.“We are now trying to refer a greater number of deals to one another and increase the knowledge of each other in terms of how we operate,” said Jean-Francois Prat, name partner of Bredin Prat.

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