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Vodafone puts emphasis on ESG in new eight-firm adviser panel

Vodafone has completed the latest refresh of its legal advice panel, selecting eight firms based on a commitment to shared diversity and ESG best practice.

Latham & Watkins, Deloitte and TLT are the new additions from the last review in 2018, alongside Hogan Lovells, Linklaters, Osborne Clarke, Slaughter and May and Wiggin, which have retained their spots. This is a slight increase from the seven firms selected in 2018’s overhaul . The panel will provide broad legal cover on commercial, real estate, employment, regulatory and litigation, as well as support for legal transformation.

On unveiling the new panel, Vodafone group general counsel and company secretary Rosemary Martin (pictured) said: ‘At Vodafone, we aim to build a digital society that enhances socio-economic progress, embraces everyone and does not come at the cost of our planet. Our purpose is now very much at the core of everything that we do and I am proud that this now extends to our legal panel. We are looking forward to these new ways of working.’

She added: ‘Our panel legal service providers have signed up to an ambitious set of commitments to share best practice and collaborate on diversity and inclusion and ESG topics, including working together to develop the principles championed by the general counsel for diversity and inclusion initiatives. They will also form diverse working teams both to manage our relationship and when advising on our matters.’

James Touzel, partner and head of TLT’s digital sector team, said of the firm’s addition to the panel: ‘Throughout the tender process we felt our particular expertise and approach – with a focus on working collaboratively to prepare their business for what comes next – fitted well with Vodafone’s requirements. We all felt a strong alignment with the client’s core values, particularly on diversity and inclusion, sustainability and social impact. We are looking forward to working as trusted business advisors to Vodafone and helping them deliver on their strategic priorities.’

Martin also said that the firms had ‘agreed to a set of mindful working principles, which couldn’t be more important at the present time.’ While not presently a signatory, this is reminiscent of the Mindful Business Charter which was launched at the end of 2018, an agreement between member clients and law firms to adhere to a set of mindful working principles.

Specific features of the charter include being clear in the title of emails sent outside of business hours about whether they need to be read or actioned promptly, not expecting those on annual leave to be on call or check emails, and negotiating, rather than imposing, deadlines.