Royal Dutch Shell has made two significant internal promotions to its in-house legal function, with associate general counsel (GC) for litigation Richard Hill (pictured) appointed to succeed Brad Nielson as GC for global litigation, while Martin Bambridge, currently associate GC for the energy giant’s downstream portfolio, will take over from downstream legal chief, Hans von der Linde.
Announced internally yesterday (5 March), both Hill and Bambridge will take up their new positions on 1 April and 1 May respectively. Both Nielson and von der Linde are leaving the energy giant, although Shell refused to comment on their destination or why they were leaving the company.
Hill joined Shell in 2012 from Fulbright & Jaworski (now Norton Rose Fulbright) where he established and led the firm’s Asia disputes practice. Also qualified as a barrister, Hill joined the company as part of the formation of a litigation group undertaken by former legal head Peter Rees QC. He leads Shell’s litigation teams across Europe, Asia and Africa.
Bambridge, meanwhile, joined Shell in 2001 having previously worked as an upstream lawyer for US-based Marathon Oil and British energy company LASMO. At Shell, he initially served in the gas and power legal team, working on infrastructure projects in the Middle East and North America, before moving to the downstream legal team in 2005 and taking on the role of associate GC for Shell’s oil products group for Africa. Since May 2011, Bambridge’s role as associate GC, downstream, included conducting a range of downstream acquisitions, divestments and joint venture transactions globally.
Shell’s in-house resource has undergone major restructuring in recent years by bolstering its internal capability and establishing more efficient use of external counsel. Former legal director Peter Rees QC, who departed last year to join 39 Essex Street, pushed through major changes, overhauling Shell’s estimated 750-lawyer department and kicking off a far-reaching global panel review.
In 2013, the extensive global panel review saw 357 firms in 20 jurisdictions compete for a spot, and more than 150 firms were selected for specific local practice areas. Eleven firms including Allen & Overy (A&O) and Baker & McKenzie, were successful in advising the company in three jurisdictions or more.
The in-house function is now led by Rees’ successor Donny Ching, who recently told Legal Business the in-house team outsources legal advice only when really necessary: ‘We talk to a lot of law firms and we have our panel but the truth is that when we do engage with our law firms quite often it is in areas where we need specialist advice or where we don’t have the physical capacity to do a large transaction and we bring people in.
We concluded about $5.5bn of divestments in the US last year. In the whole process we spent less than $100,000 on external law firms. If there is a particular hallmark that makes us stand out it is that we do a lot of the work in-house.’