Abbey National nets barrister as it reviews outside advisers

Banking giant Abbey National has poached a barrister from rival Alliance & Leicester.

Richenda Kullar has joined the 15-strong legal team as one of its in-house counsel at the same time as Abbey National starts a review of its law panel.

Kullar and the bank refuse to comment on her move, but it is thought she joined the Abbey National because it has a more flexible working environment for its lawyers.

An Abbey National spokesman confirms the bank will review the effectiveness of the law firms it instructs over the next few months. However, he refuses to name which firms are involved.

Slaughter and May is understood to be Abbey National’s preferred law firm.

It has also used Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Norton Rose and US firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.

All the law firms that the bank instructs will be given a report of its findings on their performance and value.

But the spokesman is ambiguous about whether a cull of the bank’s outside legal advisers is planned.

“Some time in the next couple of months we may change law firms and we may not,” he says. “But the chances of change are minimal.”

The news of the review of follows the report that Barclays Bank plans to cull its main legal panel (The Lawyer, 28 February).