BUPA general counsel Paul Newton’s tough stance on law firm billing has resulted in firms pitching for panel places accepting substantial reductions on fees.
Newton, who began reviewing the firms retained for M&A, litigation and NHS procurement work in February, said the process would result in a 30 per cent reduction in the cost of outside counsel.
“One of the things we did as part of the panel review was to simulate what happens in an e-auction,” Newton said. “We explained to the shortlisted firms where they sat relative to each other on fees and invited them to retender on fees. What were already competitive rates came back lower.”
Previously the three areas covered by the review were each serviced by four firms. The M&A panel, which will split in two to cover large and small transactions, is now made up of five firms, while litigation and procurement are each serviced by three.
Newton added: “Weightmans was a bit of a wild card for us because it was the one firm we didn’t have an existing relationship with. We felt they recognised that much of what they do in the area of procurement is highly commoditised and that they can achieve a balance between cost and value.”