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Pearson kicks off second US panel review after finalising litigation roster

Pearson, the largest education company and book publisher in the world, has launched its US corporate panel review after finalising spots on its litigation roster for the region. The US changes come after Pearson finalised its UK roster in recent months with the help of Accenture.

Senior vice president and general counsel Bjarne Tellmann (pictured), who worked on the UK panel, is leading a review of the publishing giant’s US M&A panel.

While Pearson’s panels have no fixed timeframe, key factors for Tellmann are coverage in practice area and geography, industry experience, assessing the individuals put forward, value-adds and diversity.

The US litigation panel concluded recently includes Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Goodwin Procter, and Steptoe & Johnson, joined by Davis Wright Tremaine, Dorsey & Whitney, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, Oppenheim + Zebrak, Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, and Woodhouse.

It is no surprise that Pearson is scrutinising its spend on legal fees relating to transactional activity. The firm outsourced a series of media disposals to firms last year, namely the Financial Times to Japanese group Nikkei for £844m, and Pearson’s 50% stake in The Economist Group to Exor for £469m. It had used Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for the FT sale, and the Magic Circle firm again for the Economist sale.

Late last year Tellmann led the review process for a UK panel, which was divided into sub-panels by practice area with DLA Piper, Pinsent Masons, Freshfields and Herbert Smith Freehills winning corporate M&A adviser roles.

Pinsents, Fieldfisher and Kemp Little were given spots for IT and commercial work; and Charles Russell Speechlys and DWF won places for employment work.

The process was concluded with the help of consultancy Accenture. While it is unusual for in-house counsel to draft the help of consultants on panel reviews, Tellmann told Legal Business it had been a ‘great experience’. He added: ‘They helped structure the plan and put an arm’s length to it… it’s important that you do this in a proper way.’

For more on Pearson’s Bjarne Tellmann, see The Client.