Legal Business Blogs

BT concludes delayed panel review with 37 firms including Magic Circle heavyweights winning places

BT has concluded its long-awaited UK and Ireland panel review, with a raft of Magic Circle firms including Allen & Overy, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Clifford Chance and Linklaters winning places on the extended roster.

The review, which was officially kicked off last July, when tender documents were sent out, also saw Addleshaw Goddard, Baker McKenzie, Berwin Leighton Paisner, CMS Cameron McKenna and Eversheds Sutherland named as advisers.

The new panel, which will run for three years until April 2020, was overseen by BT’s director, equality of access office & COO Legal Governance and Compliance, Jon Furmston and central operations head of suppliers and systems Keith Thomson. Both Thomson and Furmston took over from BT’s group director of ethics and compliance Gareth Tipton, who was originally overseeing the review alongside a project team.

The review was originally supposed to be wrapped up by September/October last year after which the company planned to kick start a review to create its first (non-UK) international legal panel.

BT’s previous roster compromised Bird & Bird, CMS, Freshfields, Wiggin and Sheridans. There were also arrangements with alternative legal providers Obelisk, Axiom, Halebury and SSQ Interim Solutions. BT is expected to continue an informal relationship with alternative providers.

Last November Legal Business revealed BT had started a wide-reaching strategic review on how to change its internal structure to bring its lawyers closer to the business.

The legal department, which was one of the first in-house teams to obtain an alternative business structure licence and launch its now long-running and legal process outsourcing venture, was also working out a strategy for the procurement process and assessing its external spend with its traditional and non-law firm service providers. At the time general counsel for UK commercial legal services, Chris Fowler, said the upcoming panel would be more ‘nuanced’ and firms would be categorised under ‘capacity’ and ‘expertise’.

The full list is as follows:

Addleshaw Goddard

Allen & Overy


Baker McKenzie

Berwin Leighton Paisner

Bird & Bird

Bond Dickinson

Burges Salmon


Cleaver Fulton Rankin

Clifford Chance

DAC Beachcroft

CMS Cameron McKenna


Ernst & Young

Eversheds Sutherland



Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer


Kemp Little

Lewis Silkin


Mason Hayes & Curran


MSI Global Alliance

Napier & Sons Solicitors

Onside Law

Osborne Clarke

Reed Smith

Shepherd & Wedderburn

Simmons & Simmons


Trowers & Hamlins


Winckworth Sherwood

Wright Hassall