Revealed: A&O, Links and Olswang out after L&G cut panel from 19 to five

Allen & Overy, Linklaters and Olswang are among the firms to have missed out on Legal & General (L&G) panel places after the insurer cut its advisor roster from 19 to five, it has emerged.

Just Clifford Chance, Eversheds, Pinsent Masons, Slaughter and May and Macfarlanes secured panel spots at the life insurer, which did not run a competitive tender process for the work.

Berwin Leighton Paisner and Wragge & Co also missed out on the revised panel despite making the cut when it was last reviewed in 2009.

According to one source the internal legal team decided last December that formalised panel places should be restricted to five as part of cost-cutting measures and it was decided from there what firms those should be. The successful candidates were told of the news in April. 

Another source said the insurer had not invited tenders to avoid a laborious review process. But advisory roles could come up for other firms at points throughout the year as the L&G is understood to be ready to pass out work beyond its panel.

The insurer originally launched five separate panels in 2004 (10 December 2004) but bought 19 firms under one roof four years later (19 January 2009).

In 2004 the insurer divided its work between group; UK operations; investment management; real estate and private equity, but it scrapped the divisions in 2009.

L&G panel reviews have historically sparked battles between magic circle firms battling to win spots. A&O usurped Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for its panel place in 2009, and Linklaters and Slaughter and May have squabbled over the company’s corporate work since 2004.

The company’s first panel review saw the pair sharing the role as corporate adviser, despite Slaughters typically having a monopoly over L&G’s corporate work (13 December 2004).

L&G’s legal team is led by Geoff Timms, who has been at the helm for 15 years and comprises 20 in-house lawyers.

L&G was not the only insurer looking to significant cost savings over the last 12 months. In August Aviva unveiled a new look panel (30 Augist 2013). Aviva Group’s general counsel Monica Risam led the review, inviting 35 existing advisers to tender by demonstrating leadership and positioning in the market. Aviva demanded a fee discount of up to 25 per cent for firms pitching for the plc-level panel.

The shock news was that Clifford Chance failed to win a spot as Aviva reappointed Slaughter and May while giving the nod to newcomer A&O for the plc roster (23 September 2013).