It may not be the name most associated with sole adviser mandates in the legal industry but Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) has still scored a notable win. The global law firm has confirmed this week that it has secured a position as global legal counsel to engineering company IMI following an overhaul of its use of external counsel.
The Birmingham-based IMI previously had over 70 law firms engaged on a variety of issues. NRF will now take the lion’s share of work across the board including commercial contracts; competition; compliance; employment; export controls/sanctions; product liability and environmental; intellectual property; litigation and real estate.
The firm’s client relationship partners include London-based Sam Eastwood, Jill Gauntlett and Mike Knapper. The appointment comes despite the absence of a previous substantive relationship for NRF with the FTSE 250 company, which employs around 12,000 staff.
Eastwood told Legal Business: ‘What we’ve got now is an arrangement where law firm partnering is the thrust. It’s also part of a continuing re-alignment of the in-house legal function enabling it to be more proactive and strategic in its focus on legal risk management. They need, given the extent of their operations, help from a global law firm for that. We will continue to invest a huge amount in understanding the client and its procedures. As a result, we can flex and respond to their needs. This appointment essentially reflects the development and evolution of IMI’s in-house legal function.’
Eastwood added: ‘We appreciate this is a significant departure for IMI and we believe that providing a global service to the group will create greater efficiencies.’
While NRF has been less publicly associated with the kind of consolidated mandates for major clients handled by Eversheds, DLA Piper and Baker & McKenzie, the firm did last year secure the role of global legal adviser to British automotive group McLaren. The appointment saw Baker & McKenzie lose out after having advised the company since the 1980s and with annual legal fees said to be worth around £1m. While the spread of such arrangements have been relatively slow, current indications are that they are gradually gaining ground among clients, with Heineken’s UK arm this year appointing DLA Piper as its primary counsel.