Reckitt Benckiser (RB) is making plans to carry out a UK panel review, with Bill Mordan, senior vice president and group general counsel (GC), also looking to formalise the company’s current panel arrangement.
The multinational consumer goods company currently has an informal panel arrangement in the UK, which consists of a two-tier system of seven firms. Tier one comprises Magic Circle firms Slaughter and May, Allen & Overy and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, while tier two includes firms such as Eversheds and, in particular, Thrings‘ office in Swindon, which support contract work, negotiations and some civil disputes.
It is understood that following the future panel review, the number of firms is likely to stay around the same, with the overall goal to make the process of using external counsel by RB’s 70-member legal team more transparent, rather than a plan to drive cost efficiency.
There is also a desire to reflect the changing structure of the company, which is spinning out its RB Pharmaceuticals business into a newly incorporated company called Indivior. The demerger saw Slaughters advise RB, while Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison handled US law matters. The target is to carry out the panel review by the year end, though it may take longer given the major restructuring of the business.
Speaking to Legal Business, a staffer at RB said: ‘We are continuing to work on the operating model and corporate structure of the company and we are trying to reflect in our legal services how the company is changing structurally.
‘We recognise that what we have done informally, while from a cost standpoint has been highly effective and best in class, from a process standpoint could be more transparent.’