Royal Dutch Shell review to slash law firm roster

Royal Dutch Shell has begun a full-scale review of its legal advisers with a view to reducing the total number of firms on its roster.

The oil company is ­looking for firms to provide ­global advice across eight different practice areas: M&A portfolio; project development; antitrust; IP services, including patent and trademark applications; compliance; antibribery and corruption support; ­international dispute ­resolution; and trading.

Shell has previously been advised by a number of firms, including Allen & Overy, Baker & McKenzie, Clifford Chance, Denton Wilde Sapte, Simmons & Simmons and Slaughter and May.
Its current roster of firms runs into double figures, but general counsel for projects and technology Brad Nielson told The Lawyer that costs pressures generated by the wider economic climate will force the corporation to streamline.

“We hope to narrow the list considerably,” he said. “[We want between] five and 10 firms – [probably] towards the lower end.”

Nielson added that Shell would be looking for firms to propose alternative billing structures as part of their respective pitches.

“A key focus is [on having] firms with people in the right places to provide the right support,” he explained. “We want firms that are truly interested in being a ­partner, and cost is always a critical element in that. We need to move away from the ­standard billable hour.”

Shell is evaluating responses to a request for information. Firms will be appointed for three years.