Deutsche Bank has kicked off a global review of its law firms and is expected to cut both its external advisers and its legal spend.
The global investment banks have been far slower than clearing banks to adopt panel systems, with Credit Suisse First Boston one of the first to introduce a panel in 2002.
The Deutsche Bank review is at an early stage, but should it result in the introduction of either a panel system or a tightly policed and approved list of external firms, it would be a significant development for the investment banking sector.
Deutsche Bank has instructed Accenture to run the process, which is being driven by New York general counsel Dick Taylor.
Deutsche Bank uses more than 20 law firms for US advice and the impact of the review could be felt most strongly in New York, where the panel system is rarely used.
One partner involved in the review commented: “This could be the beginning of a sea change in the way financial institutions operate in the New York market and it will be completely alien to New York firms.”
Accenture has sent out “requests for information” to all of Deutsche Bank’s law firms, with separate sections for US, UK and German advice. Asia is not included in the review.
It is unclear whether the bank is considering regional panels in addition to a global panel.
Law firms have been asked to agree to a fixed rate for advice, and some sources have also suggested that the bank will charge the same rates for own account advice and work where fees are passed on to third parties.
It is understood that in London Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters, Lovells, Simmons & Simmons and White & Case have all been contacted. Deutsche Bank and the law firms declined to comment.