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Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), Eversheds and Nabarro Nathanson - three firms that have traditionally enjoyed the lion's share of the Government's legal spend - have all fared badly on seven new Government legal panels.
All three firms are on just one of the seven legal panels that have been finalised to service the entire public sector.
According to figures released by the National Audit Office, BLP, Nabarros and Eversheds came first and joint second respectively in the top five firms for Government legal spend in 1999-2000, the last time figures were released.
In 2002, Eversheds received £11m for work on the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, while Nabarros advised over 100 local authorities, several of which it has exclusive partnering arrangements with.
The seven panels the Government created are: IT, telecoms and e-commerce; property and estates; HR; construction; company and corporate; finance and banking; and general commercial.
BLP is on the banking panel, Eversheds the property panel and Nabarros the construction panel.
Bird & Bird and Denton Wilde Sapte, joint second and fourth respectively in the 1999-2000 top five, both did well. Dentons is on five of the seven panels and Bird & Bird three. The overall winner was Field Fisher Waterhouse with a place on all seven.
Every successful firm offered a discount of up to 25 per cent on their commercial hourly rates.