Legal Business Blogs

Barclays cuts legal roster by 30% in global panel review as American firms find success

Barclays has turned to a raft of US firms, including Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Latham & Watkins, for its preferred legal advisers as its latest panel review sees the banking group cut its legal roster by around 30% and move to a streamlined two-tier system of ‘preferred’ and ‘approved’ firms.

Eversheds, TLT and Matthew Arnold & Baldwin (MAB) have also been appointed to Barclays’ preferred panel, which includes all 11 firms that were previously on its mainstream ‘general advisory’ panel, namely Addleshaw Goddard; Allen & Overy; Clifford Chance; DLA Piper; Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; Hogan Lovells; Linklaters; Simmons & Simmons; Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton; Shearman & Sterling; and Sullivan & Cromwell.

The firms that were not previously on the general advisory panel but have been newly-selected as preferred firms, with which Barclays will ‘seek to deepen its relationship and concentrate spend over time’, include five US firms: Boies, Schiller & Flexner; Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft; Davis Polk & Wardwell; Latham; and Skadden Arps.

Boies Schiller was formerly on Barclays’ litigation panel, while Skadden Arps, Cadwalader, Latham and Davis Polk were on its investment banking and markets panel. Latham was also previously on Barclays’ commercial and IP panel.

The remaining three firms appointed as preferred advisers are TLT; Eversheds; and MAB, which last year was appointed by Groupon as its sole UK adviser.

Eversheds was on Barclays’ corporate recovery, lending and finance; corporate real estate; commercial real estate; private equity and infrastructure funds; and litigation panels.

MAB, meanwhile, was on the corporate recovery and litigation panel alongside TLT.

Firms that held numerous panel places under the previous arrangement but have not been named as preferred advisers include Berwin Leighton Paisner, and Pinsent Masons, which were previously on five panels each, and legacy SNR Denton on four.

The simplified panel, which will run from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2016, was formerly divided into 16 practice or geographical areas. It was not known at the time of going to press which firms are on the ‘approved’ list.

The more even split of US and UK firms is said to better reflect Barclays’ current business and legal spend.

Bob Hoyt, Barclays general counsel, said: ‘I am pleased to announce the conclusion of our review of legal suppliers – a process that ensures we have the right choice of panel firms to meet our diverse needs, deliver excellent value and high standards.

‘Our simplified legal panel, made up of preferred and approved firms, will provide the broad range of expertise and in-depth knowledge of Barclays required to support our business lines globally.

‘I am grateful to all those involved for their contribution to achieving this outcome. Through driving greater value and capabilities, the legal function is supporting Barclays’ ambition of becoming the “go-to” bank.’

Barclays has an annual legal spend of around £100m and its last review saw 117 firms appointed to 13 panels and three UK sub-panels for its investment banking and markets arm.

It emerged earlier this year that the bank is set to shake up how it interacts with its external advisers with the introduction of corporate value accounts.

The initiative, understood to be incorporated in the new panel arrangements, will see law firms allocated an annual sum representing the value of legal services they must provide through various services, primarily legal advice and secondments.