Thought Leaders: M&A and Governance 2017
Nigel’s broad practice includes domestic and international corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, IPOs, demergers, private acquisitions and disposals, private equity, public takeovers, issues of compliance and corporate governance, investigations and insolvency, restructurings, investigations and sports law.
What attracted you to a career in corporate law?
I more or less stumbled into it, but having done so would now say it has everything I would look for in a job – intellectually stimulating; requiring good understanding of people; practicality and great job satisfaction when a transaction closes.
What is the secret of your practice’s success?
Putting the clients’ interests ahead of everything else, including your own interests.
What has most inspired you as a practitioner?
I don’t like being on the losing side
What has been the most memorable matter you’ve worked on?
I am going to cheat and choose three – the recapitalisation of the British banking system during the financial crisis; representing the government of Botswana in its negotiations with De Beers in their diamond joint venture; and acting on the sale of Liverpool Football Club to its current owners.
What is the greatest challenge facing the sector at present?
Retaining our professionalism while continuing to develop as businesses.
Lawyers’ practices have become increasingly specialist during recent years. Do you believe this is a trend that will continue in the marketplace? What impact has this had on the service clients receive?
Specialism is necessary in some highly complex areas such as tax. However, in general an intelligent lawyer should be able to cover a range of “specialisms” and will provide a better service to clients for being able to do so – and increase their own enjoyment of work in the process.
Slaughter and May is known for its conservative approach to lateral hires. Having made the first lateral partnership hire in 2014, does the firm plan to continue making these hires? What was the reasoning behind the change in approach?
In relation to new partners we have a very strong pipeline of talent across our practice areas. However, if we believe there is a lateral hire who would enhance the service we provide to clients then we would pursue it. This is not a new policy – we have made lateral hires with a view to partnership as long back as I can remember.
With the emergence of the global elite in the legal marketplace, does the firm feel under increasing pressure to look for a merger partner or expand internationally by opening additional offices? What benefits does the best friends network bring to clients as opposed to international expansion?
There have for a long time been firms described as global when they cover perhaps 30 countries out of the circa 200. Coudert Brothers, for example. But none of those then, nor any now, can claim to be an elite firm in more than one or at most two global financial centres. The best friends model truly does provide an elite firm in every global financial centre. It appears to me from the press reports of the downsizing and closing of offices by the multi-office firms that it is they which are under pressure to change. We feel very comfortable with our strategy.