From the last six months of The Lawyer magazine, I picked out the following highlights from the various reports of law firm panels and pitches:

Collaborative working with Barclays or RBS (30th June)

  • “If you want a panel place then you need to get used to working in partnership with peer firms”
  • RBS (due for a panel review in 2015) has warned the 20 firms to make cost efficiencies (it previously reduced sub-panels from 13 to five and cut the roster by 40% in 2013)
  • RBS is using Richard Susskind to advise on how best to distribute work among panel firms and is expected to request more collaboration
  • They are also questioning whether they always need a magic circle firm on transactions
  • Single bills, single teams and shared letters of engagement on the horizon for Barclays
  • Barclays created a streamlined global litigation group reporting direct to its general counsel and also launched a new global financial crime team (9th June 2014)

International expansion and specialists still sought at BP (14th July 2014)

  • Three firms won first-time posts on UK panel (none of its US firms added)
  • International panel increased from eight firms to 10 – reappointing all but one firm
  • Additional specialist firms are being considered for niche roles
  • They sought competition, quality and value

Ministry of Defence (MoD) expanding commercial projects (23 June 2014)

  • Looking for firms for an expanded panel after rejecting plans to reduce its legal roster
  • First panel review for five years – after delays to consider using only the revamped central government panel put in place two years ago
  • Need for large commercial projects expertise drive the tender process – looking for up to 10 firms to allow more choice and to avoid conflicts
  • End of September deadline for panel to be effective from January 2015 

QBE insurance splits European panel (26th May 2014)

  • Created two distinct panels for European operations
  • Core panel handles employment, data protection, corporate, and regulatory
  • Strategic panel for transactions that are of strategic importance
  • The process took account of the claims legal panel which was reduced earlier this year from 16 to 12

New additions for Sainsbury’s (12th May 2014)

  • Third review with a tender run by in-house counsel and procurement team
  • 12 firms appointed – two firms winning places for the first time

Panel reduction at Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) (12th May 2014)

  • Reduced the panel from 14 to nine
  • Affordable Homes Programme changed from four regional panels to two lots
  • Three stage process 

Partnerships and Pro Bono at RSC (Theatre/entertainment) (10th March 2014)

  • In-house team providing a self-service portal intranet to support legal work in the business
  • In-house team developed a contract management system
  • Legal budget only £70,000
  • Inaugural panel review (part of a three year strategy) to see where to build partnerships
  • General Counsel previously at British American Tobacco
  • Aims to have a small, manageable panel and criteria to include some Pro Bono work – especially tax related