Barlow Lyde & Gilbert is to join the ranks of Masons and Linklaters & Alliance as core adviser to IT giant ICL.
The Fujitsu-owned company does not have a formal panel, but it does have extremely close and longstanding relationships with Masons and Linklaters.
Linklaters usually acts as ICL's corporate and M&A adviser, with Masons working on commercial transactions, but senior legal adviser Jonathan Smith says the company has been looking to "widen its palate".
Smith says: "We want relationships with a number of law firms, so if someone is conflicted out or if there's a capacity issue, it means we can go to someone else with confidence."
ICL approached Barlows because of a personal recommendation by a member of the in-house team for IT partner Kit Burden.
Smith goes on to say that ICL was impressed with Barlows' fledgling reputation in IT outsourcing work. Barlows counts PricewaterhouseCoopers and Cap Gemini among its clients.
Last week, Barlows finished working on its first significant deal for ICL, the implementation and 10-year management contract of a £10.5m IT system for Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC).
Although it has done piecemeal work for ICL in the past, this was the first time it was instructed on such a significant deal.
Smith says that while the CCC deal is in no way one of ICL's biggest, it did include a variety of innovative and complex elements. He confirms that Barlows will be used in the future, adding: "We're very pleased with the support Kit and his team gave us."
There is no suggestion, however, that Barlows will edge either Masons or Linklaters out. A spokeswoman from Masons confirms that both client and firm still have a strong relationship.