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Shearman, HSF and Milbank join Deutsche Bank panel as junior lawyer rules prove controversial

Herbert Smith Freehills, Shearman & Sterling, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy and Reed Smith have also taken places on Deutsche Bank’s controversial new legal panel.

The firms take their places alongside more than a dozen others – including the entire Magic Circle, on the panel which has made headlines after the bank attempted to remove fees for junior lawyers.

Others on the panel include Ashurst, Simmons & Simmons, Taylor Wessing and Hogan Lovells. US firms on the new panel include Latham & Watkins, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Mayer Brown and White & Case.

The review process, which is understood to be mostly complete, stemmed from a request for proposal sent out to help Deutsche analyse its current policies and processes for external legal counsel. The process, dubbed ‘Project Eagle’, was led by global chief operating officer of legal and compliance Rose Battaglia, with appointments expected to last two years.

As part of the panel review, at tender stage, the bank attempted to implement a system under which trainee and newly-qualified lawyers would not be able to charge for work they carried out.

The system, which is more common in the US, has drawn some strong reactions from the profession. However, it is understood some firms on the panel were able to negotiate themselves out of the system.

One City partner from a panel firm said: ‘We were very concerned with it. Some firms pushed hard, some successfully, not to comply with that request. Those are the firms which offer the bank value for money.

‘I have some sympathy for Deutsche’s push. It doesn’t want to pay a one-year qualified lawyer, who is still an expensive asset, to do non-value-add work. It doesn’t want lawyers to learn on the job for them and get paid £250 an hour.’

However, one head of finance at a Deutsche panel firm said the trend for institutions to delete junior lawyer fees is ‘just for show’. He added: ‘For the purposes of presenting fee estimates, it’s a matter of the relationship between the institution and the relevant law firm as to how those numbers are presented.

‘If that means the client’s desire is not to show junior lawyer time because they feel the customer doesn’t want to pay for it, fine. But the figure will be the figure.’

A Deutsche Bank spokesperson declined to comment.

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