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Morrisons has completed its first panel review as it prepares to double its in-house legal team by the end of the year.
General counsel Mark Amsden joined from Addleshaw Goddard in Febuary and has since recruited two former colleagues to join him in boosting its legal team from four to eight by the end of the year. The two new lawyers started at the retailer last week and two will start before December.
Amsden also called on former Addleshaw Goddard partner Chris Howe – now a consultant at Raed Bora - to craft Morrisons’ first ever panel review, which will see the supermarket branch out of its longstanding relationship with Gordons.
DAC Beachcroft, Eversheds, DWF and Browne Jacobson have all been newly elected to the 15-strong panel following the launch in July.
The panel is divided into six areas: property, employment, personal injury, Scotland and an ‘everything else’ panel, with longstanding adviser Gordons taking spots on four of those areas.
“We wanted to see something different,” said Amsden. “Morrisons has never done a panel review and we have some good well established relationships but because of that, we have never looked outside those relationships to see what else law firms could do. We were curoious to see what else was out there,.”
Some 40 firms were long-listed by the supermarket with 22 making the shortlist. Only 12 of those had worked for the supermarket before, with recommendations coming from the in-house team for the other ten, 15 firms were then interviewed.
DWF retail, food and hospitality head Hilary Ross particularly impressed Amsden, as did litigator Andrew Harris, Amsden said.
He added that DAC Beachcroft won the company over by using automation and new technologies to drive down costs in handling personal injury claims.
“We said in our document 'be concise in your replies and don’t tell us youre good at something you’re not good at because you’ll diappoint us. DAC had quite a clever, quite small but very concise project metholody,” said Amsden.
The biggest winners on the panel are the five companies on the real estate team, which generates over half of the company’s legal work. As well as DAC Beachcroft, Eversheds, Browne Jacobson, Wragge & Co and Gordons will all be dealt healthy deals from this appointment.
Ashurstdoes not feature on the real estate panel, however, despite working on the supermarket’s deal with Ocado, led by global corporate head Stephen Lloyd and also included corporate partners Adrian Clark and Karan Dinamani (20 May 2013). The firm did grab a spot on the ‘everything else’ panel.