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Sole survivor – Eversheds gets the lot from Turkish Airlines as company slashes legal roster from 120 to one

It has been a legal trend more discussed than delivered in recent years but Eversheds Sutherland has made good on its pioneering work as a sole adviser to major corporates to secure the panel work of Turkey’s national flag carrier Turkish Airlines.

The arrangement, which will last for three years, will cover all of the airline’s day-to-day legal needs across 116 countries with Eversheds Sutherland’s head of global client development Stephen Hopkins managing the relationship. Ali Uysal, chief legal counsel for Turkish Airlines, said the deal would provide ‘efficiency and cost certainty’. The deal will not include domestic work as Eversheds does not have a local practice. Hopkins added: ‘Our partnership with Turkish Airlines is a long-term, strategic relationship.’

The deal follows on from similar arrangements Eversheds has in place with FTSE 100 water company Severn Trent and security systems group Tyco. The legacy Eversheds pioneered such deals in 2006 with Tyco, attracting much attention in industry circles despite being initially beset by teething problems.

Though such arrangements often see clients retain another adviser for high stakes transactional work – Tyco for instance has often used Allen & Overy as lead corporate counsel – hoovering up large amounts of day-to-day legal work for large clients can still involve very substantial fees.

Turkish Airlines is a sizeable client by any yardstick, generating revenues of more than $10bn in 2015 and employing more than 27,000 staff. Eversheds’ hand in the pitch was likely strengthened by its recent tie-up with US practice Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, which created a £600m law firm.

Severn Trent reappointed Eversheds as its sole adviser for a new five-year term in 2015, despite having considered appointing at least two firms to its new roster.

Pinsent Masons has a current sole adviser mandate with Balfour Beatty, while in 2015 Heineken appointed DLA Piper as its principal legal adviser for a major proportion of work.

While sole adviser mandates remain relatively rare, their increasing prominence underlines the extent to which clients are using shrinking panels to wring further cost concessions from advisers.