Eversheds and Newcastle-based Watson Burton have been selected as the first advisers to the newly incorporated Russell Group of 20 top universities.
The group, which includes the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and the London School of Economics and Political Science, was formed in 1994, but was incorporated for the first time this year. It did not hold a formal tender process, instead appointing the firms after discussions with practices used by member universities.
Russell Group executive director Michael Carr said: "Our criteria in choosing these firms were experience, expertise and the fact that both have offices in London where the Russell Group is based."
Eversheds has been appointed for general work, while Watson Burton will provide advice on employment.
Group members will continue to use their own firms for individual requirements. Eversheds already has 10 Russell Group clients and head of education John Boardman said working for the group itself would help the firm to build relationships with the remaining members.
As well as the universities mentioned, Russell Group includes the universities of Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, Southampton and Warwick, as well as Imperial College London, King's College London, Queen's University Belfast and University College London. Besides incorporating, the group this year appointed its first-ever director general, Wendy Piatt.
Watson Burton has education clients including the Association of University Administrators and in July last year it won a mandate to advise the Educational Competences Consortium, the higher education HR management consultancy owned by 120 universities and colleges.