BT seeks global advisers for new panel

BT is targeting firms with global capabilities for its next legal panel, following a major review of its external legal advisers.

The telecommunications giant has shortlisted 26 law firms, which are set to be interviewed in February.

BT’s primary advisers Allen & Overy, Linklaters, Bird & Bird, Wragge & Co and Addleshaws have been invited to pitch for the panel.

Its main Scottish adviser Henderson Boyd Jackson, which recently merged with Midlands firm Gateley Wareing, was also asked to pitch.

For the first time, the BT panel is set to be split into two groups of five or six law firms. The first team will be acting on general legal issues and the second will be a specialist group.

BT legal business and projects manager Suzanne Ridley told The Lawyer the panel was expected to be finalised by early March.

“This time we’ve widened our tender process to include firms with a presence in Europe, the US and Asia Pacific,” she said. “We are particularly interested in firms with a US or European presence as more international legal matters begin to arise.”

BT made headlines in 2003 after it dropped a number of firms from its legal panel from 15 to five, in a bid to slash costs. It is understood Freshfields and Ashurst were among the firms to have missed out on selection at the time.

BT’s general counsel Anne Fletcher has been overseeing the panel review, which rotates every three years.