UBS embarks on global shake-up of law firms

UBS Investment Bank is in the throes of a full-scale review of its global panel in a bid to rationalise the firms it uses in the US, Europe and Asia.

It is understood that the review was launched late in 2004 by UBS’s new general counsel David Aufhauser, who joined the investment bank last October.

Aufhauser, who is based in UBS’s New York office, is spearheading the review with assistance from European general counsel Sally James.

UBS has relationships with a significant number of firms, but its principal legal advisers for European M&A work include Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith and Linklaters.

UBS is the latest in a string of investment and clearing banks to undertake reviews of their law firms in the past year. Last December, HSBC overhauled its legal panel following a five-month review.

Meanwhile, Barclays Bank is poised to launch a review of its advisers, with its current panel due to expire in the summer.

German bank WestLB, too, is in the midst of a review aimed at identifying and formalising the firms it has relationships with.

A UBS spokesman said it is pleased with the quality and responsiveness of counsel, but it is prudent to review relationships to enhance knowledge management and improve efficiencies.