Greenwood, Slaughters, Wragges and Wiggin are safe; Bird & Bird, Farrers and Brabners await verdict
Publishing giant Emap is shaking up its entire legal panel to make it smaller and more media-focused. Bird & Bird, Brabners, Farrer & Co, Greenwoods, Slaughter and May, Wiggin & Co and Wragge & Co make up the Emap list. Slaughters, Wragges, Wiggin and Greenwoods are safe, but the fate of the rest hangs in the balance. Media firm Olswang is the most likely contender for one of the few new appointments onto the new panel, which will be decided next month. Emap head of legal Nick Folland said: "The aim is to reduce, not increase the panel. But there will be one or two new appointments." Folland said cost cutting was not his primary aim, but he is examining the status of firms that enjoy panel positions but do not handle regular work for Emap. Bird & Bird is one such firm. The technology specialist was listed as a member of the Emap panel two years ago, but Bird & Bird managing partner David Kerr could not even recall whether Emap was a client of the firm. Bird & Bird's relationship with the company seems to have rested on the presence of Mark Haftke, who was Emap's main relationship partner. When Haftke left for KLegal 16 months ago, Emap stayed with Bird & Bird, but Folland is not in regular contact with the firm. Folland said that he was in talks with Bird & Bird's technology media and telecoms rival Olswang. "I don't know the history of Bird & Bird, although this is one of the things I am looking at. We've been talking to Olswang," he said. Confirming the firms he intended to keep, Folland said Slaughters, which does top level corporate work for Emap, was "very very good". He said Wiggin was "a fantastic firm". He also added that Greenwoods "will continue to do local work in Peterborough", and that "Wragges does a very specific piece of work for us, so we're intending to keep it on". Folland was unable to confirm whether Bird & Bird, Farrers and Brabners would be dropped. "This is one of the things I am looking into," he said. Folland was also at pains to add that panel applications were closed. "All the firms who are in with a chance know about it already," he said. Historically, Emap divisional heads, such as publishers, have chosen their own legal counsel. But Folland wants Emap heads to use only the firms on the panel, so is involving them in the selection process. "I will set up the panel, then editors will only use those firms. This is why the review is being done on a consensual basis with divisional heads involved in the selection process," he said. The choices will not be final until the Emap board approves them in mid December.