There are two points that must be made in order to get you from where this idea started to where it is today and why we believe we are in a great position to put this project into practice.  It is not as though I will know if you skip the next two paragraphs to get there but if you do not, there is a point to all this.

The First:  We offer our services to people not to the titles they hold.  The titleholders that formed a large part of our client base leading up to September 2008 moved on while their titles were extinguished.  When those very titleholders resurfaced elsewhere in different roles yet still very much operating in the capital markets, we were purposefully in a position where the whole of our team had the ability to advise all such parties even if increasingly from a different perspective.  We act for, among others, arrangers, underwriters, placement agents and structuring advisors; issuers, borrowers and sponsors; investment advisors, asset managers and fund managers; investors and bondholder committees; credit enhancers and liquidity providers; alternative lenders, private equity, hedge funds and managed accounts; swap counterparties; corporate trustees, agents and custodians; corporate service providers and special purpose vehicles; servicers of commercial and residential mortgages and cash and collateral managers.  We also speak to people, both those we act for and those in the other 23 Reed Smith offices.  The author (me that is) is not an exclamation mark, smiley face, all caps kind of writer but I admit this last bit should be in bold; we speak to that many people and that much.

The Second:  In Q3 of 2008, a lot of people wondered what type of structured finance and capital markets work would we be doing in a years’, never mind five years’, time.  So did we, but as per the First above, we had been acting for our clients from various angles so we morphed with, in hindsight, some ease.  The morphing required us to refocus where our work was coming from, who was instructing us.  It is not possible to consider where your work comes from without giving a great deal of thought to where our clients’ work comes from.   So we wondered, could we help some of you get more work? (Ok, no altruism here, but still important.)

As a team, we are consistent and clear that we always look for opportunities in our matters to refer work to our good clients in the service provider space; that’s the easy part as we work with you, know how good you are and know that you will make our lives – and those of our clients, easier.  What we were missing was the sell to our own colleagues who don’t regularly advise service providers, but do use them or have clients who use them.  And our own colleagues are a big group.  We came to set up, what we for the time being call ReferralLink (though pushing for the more artistic among us to come up with a catchier name, and we welcome suggestions).  ReferralLink is an intranet site accessible by all near 1700 fee earners within the 23 Reed Smith offices.  Through this site, we want to sell your services to our colleagues and through our colleagues to their clients.  We are starting the process with escrow services, with the idea being that our best clients’ forms of escrow documents are available to all of our colleagues together with your own KYC requirements so that when it is 2.00 a.m. in UK and someone in a wholly incompatible time zone needs an escrow put in place, then that colleague can simply go the intranet site, pick a client that fits their needs, take the form, fill it out and email it back to that client with all of the KYC requirements.  We’re also including relevant corporate trust contacts for the various product areas that you specialise in or offer.  We’re hopeful we can keep expanding to other service providers and services.  What can we help you sell?