Legal Business

National Grid reshuffles in-house team as firms join new panel

National Grid reshuffles in-house team as firms join new panel

National Grid has reorganised its in-house legal function following the £13.8bn separation of its gas distribution business.

The new business, National Grid Gas Distribution, has appointed National Grid’s former legal business partner Mark Cooper as its general counsel (GC) and company secretary. Cooper was appointed in October last year, having joined the utilities giant a year before. Formerly a legal counsel at Rolls-Royce, Cooper was in private practice at Wragge & Co between 2002 and 2008.

Cooper will head up a team of 14, including lawyers and non-legal staff. Rachael Davidson will continue to lead the legal team of National Grid as UK GC, reporting to group GC Alison Kay (pictured).

Additionally National Grid’s core legal team has been reduced from 31 to 26. The restructuring has seen four lawyers transferred to the gas distribution business.

Cooper was one of the lead lawyers for National Grid on the transaction to sell off a majority stake in the gas business, which was formally announced in December. Following various bidders vying to take a 61% equity interest in the gas distribution business, it was ultimately sold to a consortium including Macquarie Infrastructure among others.

National Grid Gas Distribution will retain the same panel arrangements with its main law firms, meaning firms will now sit on two panels. The panel was reduced in August 2015 following a review, with Herbert Smith Freehills, Irwin Mitchell and Addleshaw Goddard all winning places alongside incumbents Eversheds, Linklaters, CMS Cameron McKenna and DLA Piper.

Legal Business

A&O, Fieldfisher and Squires lose out as National Grid unveils new slimmer legal panel


Energy giant National Grid has revealed a new legal panel, further slimming down its roster to just 12 firms – a reduction of nearly 50% over its last two reviews.

New firms to have made the 2015 list include Addleshaw Goddard, Irwin Mitchell and Herbert Smith Freehills providing full-service expertise and Norton Rose Fulbright, which was appointed to provide specialist support.

With contracts starting in September, the trio for full-service advice join existing panel members CMS Cameron McKenna, DLA Piper, Eversheds and Linklaters.

Norton Rose Fulbright joins Berwin Leighton Paisner, Bircham Dyson Bell, Dentons and Shakespeare Martineau on the niche service support lines, which cover both regulated and non-regulated property and planning work, corporate services, and gas and electricity legal work.

Firms that lost out on their panel spots include Allen & Overy, Brook Street des Roches, Fieldfisher, Squire Patton Boggs, Oliver Legal and Walker Morris.

National Grid said that ‘in line with how the legal market is changing, all contracts will run for a shorter period of two years with an option to extend for a further two years’.

National Grid went out to tender in March and said in May that it was considering shrinking its current roster. At the time, 15 firms sat on the panel which was established four years ago after National Grid cut its roster by 25%. Since 2011, the British utility giant has cut its advisory panel by over half.

Alison Kay (pictured), National Grid’s group general counsel (GC) said: ‘Our review of the panel aimed to deliver an agile and smarter service delivery model with firms closely aligned to our business needs. Although the list of firms is shorter than before, we feel we’ve got greater coverage and focus.

‘We plan to work with the firms in a closer way to ensure successful delivery and use operational excellence methods such as aligned objectives, closer management of the outcomes to be provided and two way secondments to provide deeper understanding.’

The review was primarily led by UK GC and company secretary Rachel Davidson, with Kay heavily involved on corporate mandates.

Legal Business

In-house: National Grid launches UK panel review in bid to shrink roster


Energy giant National Grid has launched its first UK wide panel review for five years and is considering shrinking its current roster, Legal Business has learned.

Fifteen firms including Allen & Overy, Linklaters, DLA Piper and Eversheds currently sit on the panel, which was established in 2011 after National Grid cut its roster by 25%. The panel was originally in place for three years, but was extended on an annual basis over the last two.

While expressions of interest were sought in early March, the British multinational went out to tender last Thursday (7 May) with an end date scheduled for the summer. The review will be led primarily by UK general counsel (GC) and company secretary Rachel Davidson, however group GC and company secretary Alison Kay (pictured) will be heavily involved, especially regarding firms which have corporate mandates.

Speaking to Legal Business, Kay said: ‘The review is an appraisement of the relationship. I would also like to reduce the number of firms, I have been very clear about that. But I won’t do that just for the sake of doing it. I would like to introduce different firms and different types of alternative firms into the mix. That’s where I think we can really start adding value so we are getting the right firms doing the right sort of work.’

Additionally, this time around, the panel will be in place for a two-year period with an option to extend it by a further two years. According to Kay this reflects how ‘the legal services market is changing beyond all recognition in the way external firms provide and charge for services.’

‘I just think that hooking us in for longer than two years at the moment may not be sensible,’ she added. ‘We’ve got the option to go for longer but we don’t have to.’

In addition to the UK panel, National Grid also has a panel in the US which Kay will continue to assess.

The full list of fifteen firms on the current UK panel is as follows:

Allen & Overy

Berwin Leighton Paisner

Bircham Dyson Bell

BrookStreet des Roches

CMS Cameron McKenna (Legacy Dundas & Wilson was also named to the original panel)


DLA Piper




SGH Martineau


Squire Patton Boggs

Hill Dickinson

Oliver Legal

Legal Business

Profile: Alison Kay, National Grid


The energy giant’s group GC discusses the overhaul of its legal function

When the in-house legal team of a large corporate announces a ‘review’, it’s often enough to instil a sense of foreboding in its external legal panel. For the law firm, it’s likely to mean months of painstaking paper pushing, parading in front of senior lawyers (and, these days, possibly their bosses) and making promises they hope they can keep, particularly when it comes to costs versus service levels.

But at National Grid, things are a little different, for now at least. There is a review planned, but group general counsel (GC) and company secretary Alison Kay is determined to analyse service levels closer to home, starting with her own 31-strong UK team.

Legal Business

National Grid conducts wholesale review of internal and external legal function

Energy giant to analyse in-house team and links with UK and US counsel National Grid’s group general counsel (GC) Alison Kay has launched a wholesale review of the FTSE 100 energy giant’s in-house and external legal function, which will look at whether the internal legal team is delivering the right services and adding value to the business, as well as a potential shake-up of both its UK and US external law firm panel.

The current UK panel, which was put together in 2011 when National Grid cut its roster of firms by 25% to 16, includes Allen & Overy, Linklaters, DLA Piper, Eversheds, CMS Cameron McKenna, Berwin Leighton Paisner and Field Fisher Waterhouse.

Kay, who has been with National Grid since 1996 and was promoted to her current role in January 2013 when Helen Mahy left to pursue outside interests, said she is responding to rate pressures across the business and the energy sector as a whole.