In-house: National Grid conducts wholesale review of internal and external legal function

In-house: National Grid conducts wholesale review of internal and external legal function

National Grid‘s group general counsel (GC) Alison Kay (pictured) 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.

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The City elite is ready to try something new – are clients keeping up?

The City elite is ready to try something new – are clients keeping up?

Eighteen months ago I met the general counsel (GC) of a FTSE 250 company to listen to his plans to parcel up parts of his deals, based on complexity, and hand each chunk to a different panel adviser based on skillset, capability and cost.

Until very recently, this level of micro-management – and the prospect that law firms would no longer be handed a deal lock, stock and barrel – was not going down well. Not long after meeting this GC, I sat between two well-known managing partners at a dinner and listened to them assert matter-of-factly that this sort of tinkering round the edges would never become mainstream.

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Calling time – Nationwide’s innovative GC Liz Kelly to leave after panel review

Calling time – Nationwide’s innovative GC Liz Kelly to leave after panel review

Having worked her way up Nationwide‘s ranks to group general counsel, Liz Kelly is to leave the building society at the end of the financial year to spend more time with her family.

Kelly was appointed as general counsel in 2009 and has since pulled together what was a fractured legal department, creating a risk-based blueprint for areas where it needed to grow and building it up to around 50 lawyers, including seven litigators.

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Ireland’s lucky number seven: Irish Treasury appoints septuplet of firms to its legal panel

Ireland’s lucky number seven: Irish Treasury appoints septuplet of firms to its legal panel

Thanks to the economic turbulence that has plagued the Irish nation since 2008, Dublin’s largest firms continue to collect hefty recession related work post financial crisis, including most recently an appointment to advise the government’s asset and liabilities manager, the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA).

The NTMA, which is responsible for borrowing on behalf of the Irish government and managing the national debt, has appointed Dublin-based Big Five firms A&L Goodbody, Arthur Cox, William Fry, McCann FitzGerald and Matheson to its general legal services panel alongside Mason Hayes & Curran and offshore funds giant Maples and Calder. Continue reading “Ireland’s lucky number seven: Irish Treasury appoints septuplet of firms to its legal panel”

All change at Shell – legal head pushes through shake-up and puts final touches to global panel review

All change at Shell – legal head pushes through shake-up and puts final touches to global panel review

While the trend of in-house departments bolstering their internal capability and cutting reliance on external counsel is well established, Royal Dutch Shell’s legal head Peter Rees QC has taken the logic to the extreme.

Since replacing Beat Hess as the global energy group’s legal director in January 2011 Rees has pushed through major changes, restructuring Shell’s around 750-lawyer department and kicking off a far-reaching global panel review. Continue reading “All change at Shell – legal head pushes through shake-up and puts final touches to global panel review”

In-house survey: Horses for courses

In-house survey: Horses for courses

Demand for external law firms is increasing but choosing the right law firm is more difficult than ever. Time to examine the factors determining law firm selection

Despite the pressure on in-house teams to reduce their legal spend and keep as much work in-house as possible, demand for external legal services has still managed to grow. The in-house specialists who took part in this survey spend an average of 49% of their legal budgets on external legal advice, while 44% said demand for external legal services had increased in the last year, while 40% said demand was unchanged. This is despite the fact an overwhelming 67% of respondents say their companies now have a policy of retaining more matters in-house to reduce legal spend. While the contradiction is confusing, the upshot is clear: in-house teams need their law firms now more than ever.

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Under review

Under review

Over the past decade panels have defined the relationship between law firms and the major banks. But as the nature of those relationships shifts, panels are becoming even more important

Mark Harding insists there’s been a shift of power. ‘Previously, with a lot of work, the boot was always on the law firm foot,’ Barclays’ general counsel asserts. ‘Now the boot is on the other foot.’ Coming from one of the most senior GCs in the City, head of a 900-strong in-house team with a legal spend of £100m, it’s something to take note of. Continue reading “Under review”