The Co-operative Group‘s general counsel Alistair Asher and head of legal Jim Tully are to lead an assessment into the British consumer group’s panel firms as the group’s legal team undergoes a reorganisation.
The legal team are assessing external counsel, evaluating previous work and corroborating legal spend. It is understood that the assessment is in the very early stages, and that the in-house team won’t carry out a formal review. The Co-operative group has a historic legal panel and has worked closely with a wide range of firms in the past including Allen & Overy, Addleshaw Goddard, Burges Salmon and Weightmans.
The group is also undergoing internal restructuring, with Tully reorganising the 40-strong legal department into more business facing groups under a target operational model.
Ex-A&O global financial institutions head Asher and former Addleshaw Goddard corporate partner Tully lead the in-house department for the beleaguered group, which reported pre-tax losses of £2.5bn for 2013 – the largest ever for the organisation.
Asher joined in 2013 following the identification of a £1.5bn capital shortfall in the Co-op bank. He joined as group general counsel – a newly created role which is part of the group executive committee. Tully, who joined the company on secondment from Addleshaw Goddard, was permanently appointed at the beginning of this year.
Following the sell-off of its pharmacy business, travel business and most of the bank, the group has become significantly smaller in recent months – now operating along the business lines of food, funerals and insurance.