CC, DLA and Simmons lose out as Jumeirah revamps legal panel

Clifford Chance, DLA Piper and Simmons & Simmons have missed out on spots on Jumeirah Group’s revamped legal panel after the hospitality company’s legal chief slashed the roster from 12 firms to five.

Chief legal officer Robert Swade assembled the group’s first-ever panel in 2008, appointing Clifford Chance, Clyde & Co, DLA Piper, Mayer Brown, Pinsent Masons and Simmons & Simmons to the main global roster with an additional six firms being taken on to offer advice on specialist jurisdictions and sectors (15 July 2008).

Clydes, Mayer Brown and Pinsents continue to feature in the new line-up, with Herbert Smith, which was previously retained for specialist advice only, and US firm Weil Gotshal & Manges completing the roster. Dubai based firm Al Tamimi & Co will continue to advise in relation to certain UAE legal issues.

Swade said he has slashed the panel in a bid to tighten the relationships between his department and its advisers.

In a statement he added: “One of the aims of reducing the number of firms is to promote a closer partnership between the in-house legal team and the panel law firms, to encourage the law firms to invest time and resources, so that each firm becomes a trusted business advisor to the group”.

As part of the pitching process firms were asked to demonstrate their experience in geographical areas where the company has commercial operations or proposed new hotel developments.

The firms also had to show that they could service the hotel chain in all the jurisdictions in which it operates. The company, which is part of the state-controlled Dubai Holding, operates Dubai hotels Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Emirates Towers as well as complexes in the UK, US, Bermuda, China and across the Middle East.

Swade added: “In addition to the other, perhaps more obvious, reasons for selecting panel members, we looked for applicant firms who demonstrated a real passion and interest for our industry sector and the legal issues associated with it as well as for personal chemistry between the representatives of the applicant firms and the panel selection committee.

“We asked each of our panel appointees to enter into service level agreements, the main aim of which was to structure the relationship between the Jumeirah Group and the panel law firms as one of partnership.”

Swade has a history of building close ties with panel firms, having organised a conference for the first panel weeks after it was put together (21 July 2008).