Clifford Chance and Norton Rose appointed to revamped LV panel

Clifford Chance and Norton Rose have made first-time appearances on the corporate legal panel of Bournemouth-based insurance group Liverpool Victoria (LV).

The revamped panel, which was last reviewed in 2008-09, sees four firms appointed to act as external legal counsel for the financial group’s business affairs division and will support LV’s 12-strong in-house team, which currently houses eight lawyers.

Although Clifford Chance has acted for the mutual in the past, this is the first time that the magic circle firm has been formally appointed to its corporate legal panel. Katherine Coates, head of Clifford Chance’s financial institutions corporate group, has been advising the mutual on various matters for the past 18 months.

Meanwhile, Norton Rose’s appointment to the panel marks the first time it has worked with LV. The firm will now advise the group on a range of commercial and corporate work including regulatory affairs, insurance law and support for M&A transactions.

Despite having not worked with the firm before, Rachel Small, group general counsel at LV, invited Norton Rose to tender and was impressed by the firm’s sector knowledge and focus.

“The firm has a strong focus on the insurance sector and their pitch was very focused on the industry and the sector and we saw that this was expertise that we could tap into,” she told The Lawyer. The Norton Rose pitch was led by corporate partner Maria Ross.

Eversheds and Bond Pearce were previously on the panel and were both reappointed in the recent review. Eversheds handles a range of commercial and corporate work for LV, including advice and support on major business transactions and M&A, such as the outsourcing of the group’s fund management arm to Threadneedle Asset Management in 2011.

Bond Pearce will continue to advise the group on commercial and corporate work including property, litigation and IT-related contracts.

Irwin Mitchell, legacy Lovells and Pinsent Masons were the three firms that won spots on the previous panel review but have failed to be reappointed this time. However, Irwin Mitchell is on the group’s general insurance panel, which is reviewed separately, and handles a variety of claims for the mutual.

Commenting on the review, Small said “Over the last two years we’ve strengthened our in-house legal team significantly and now is the right time to streamline the panel to ensure that those we work with are an extension of the skills we’ve developed within our own team. All four of our legal partners have a good cultural fit with our business and by working with this select few we can ensure we deliver a professional and cost-effective service to the LV business while maintaining a large enough panel to support any major transactions that may arise requiring specialist sector expertise.”

Since joining the group in 2007 and being appointed to the role of general counsel in 2009, Small has dramatically reduced LV’s legal panel from 38 firms and driven down spend to just £400,000 (25 June 2012).

The tender process began in June this year, with LV inviting around 10 firms, both existing and a few other firms, to pitch for a position on the panel. The process was completed at the end of last month. The next review is expected to take place in approximately two years’ time. Small led the process alongside group company secretary Paul Cassidy and the group’s internal procurement team.