Change in the air for Barclays panel

Barclays is on the brink of a big change in the way it uses outside advisers

What exactly is Barclays going to do with its lawyers? CEO Antony Jenkins’ Transform programme is bound to lead to deep spending cuts affecting law firm fees, but it looks as though the bank is going to go much further than this. People close to the UK lender suggest there will be a big change to way it uses outside advisers. The only problem is, no one seems to know what this is going to be.

Law firm partners say Barclays has been asking them for a lot of in-depth data on their work for the bank of late. It has long done this type of thing, with firms reporting to the in-house team and relationship managers on a quarterly basis with timesheets and how much cash they are making from the client account.

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People connected to the bank – currently selecting a general counsel to replace retiring Mark Harding – say the recent surge in demand for information indicates this is part of a total revamp.

One relationship partner says he has met with internal management consultants at Barclays over how it might rationalise its in-house workings, with more granulated data demands being one part of this. Among the things it is asking for is data on encounters on the opposite sides of matters, in addition to Barclays mandates.

“They are going back to basics and asking, ‘Would we do it this way if we had a blank piece of paper?’” says one market observer.

One option could be in the mould of the big supply chain revamps at Apple and Ford. 

“It depends whether the new general counsel wants to be radical,” the observer adds.

Partners have little or no idea what the outcome will be. Last month’s Transform Supplier Summit seemed not to shed much light, although a series of lunches for firms hosted by deputy general counsel Michael Shaw may just clarify things.

With papers on the 2014 panel review expected to go out to firms in the spring, advisers will be watching closely. There is going to be something radical and partners want to know what it is.