WRU will look to London as it sets up first formal panel

The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) is poised to launch its first formal legal panel early next year.

The move follows the appointment of a new head of legal affairs, former Football Association (FA) senior solicitor Rhodri Lewis.

The sports body has traditionally instructed Welsh firm Hugh James for the majority of outsourced legal work due to historical links.

The WRU’s former head of legal affairs Mike Jefferies, who passed away last year, was a former Hugh James partner, and the firm’s current senior partner Gareth Williams was appointed WRU company secretary in March 2010.

While Hugh James is likely to win a place on the panel, Lewis is eager to look across the border at more specialist firms in the City.

As a former corporate associate at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Lewis has as an extensive network of contacts in London. He has already used several City firms for specialist employment and litigation advice since taking up his post.

The formal panel could be in place by the beginning of 2011 and will be reviewed every three years.

Lewis said: “There’s so much work coming in to us that we need to look at firms we can partner with to act as another pair of hands.

“I have good contacts in what’s quite a specialist area and will be looking to ­leverage that. My experience working with a number of major law firms should give me a bit of a head start.”