Legal Business Blogs

BT kicks off panel review following Brexit delay

BT has kicked off a formal panel review for its UK legal advisers after a five month delay and will create a separate international panel for the first time later this year.

BT, which houses a 400 strong in-house team led by group general counsel Dan Fitz, was due to start reviewing its UK legal roster in March. However the process has only begun this week as the company was awaiting the results of the Brexit vote.

Officially starting today (20 July) the review is being led by BT’s chief operating officer for legal, Gareth Tipton, alongside a project team after a tender document was circulated to firms in first round submissions.

The latest review is expected to be wrapped up by September/October after which the company will kick start a review to create its first (non-UK) international legal panel.

Its current core roster, which was set in 2013 for three-years, comprises Bird & Bird, CMS Cameron McKenna, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Wiggin and Sheridans. There are also arrangements with alternative legal providers Obelisk, Axiom, Halebury and SSQ Interim Solutions. BT is expected to continue an informal relationship with alternative providers.

In early 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’.

Other high-profile panel reviews of late includes Dixons Carphone which saw eleven advisers including Freshfields, DLA Piper, Pinsent Masons and Addleshaw Goddard win places on the company’s inaugural panel following its recent £3.8bn merger. Barclays also gifted Clifford Chance, Ashurst, Simmons & Simmons, Hogan Lovells and Reed Smith coveted spots on its overhauled its global roster in June and slashed its number of go-to advisers by over 60%.