Jones Day benefits from IBM volte-face

IBM has appointed Jones Day Gouldens as a corporate and commercial adviser in a move that signals a radical shift in the technology giant’s legal strategy.

IBM’s traditional strategy has been to keep as much work as possible in-house, but it is now looking to widen its panel of law firms.

Jones Day was invited to pitch for work due to its relationship with IBM in the US. The firm has already begun to advise on corporate, commercial and litigation matters.

The appointment will come as a blow to IBM’s key UK corporate adviser Ashurst Morris Crisp and will also surprise Herbert Smith and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which have been IBM’s litigators of choice for some years.

This new willingness to outsource comes as a result of the volumes of work being generated by the company following last year’s acquisition of Pricewaterhouse-Coopers’ consulting arm.

The Lawyer understands that Barlow Lyde & Gilbert has also been appointed to work on IT outsourcing deals and has been approached to advise on pensions, litigation and employment matters, which Jones Day is also expected to advise on.

The change of approach is very much in its formative period, with the UK legal department putting out feelers to firms to advise on a broad range of matters. A partner at one of IBM’s firms said: “They’re just not used to using external law firms.”

IBM declined to comment.