Lucent cuts legal panel

Lucent Technologies is reviewing its panel of around 10 UK law firms in a bid to rationalise its legal outsourcing following its rapid expansion in Europe.

New York-listed Lucent has 17 lawyers in its Europe, Middle Eastern and African region, and a total market capitalisation of $170bn (u106.25bn).

Corporate counsel for the UK and Ireland Nick Holland says that the company is about to do a tender to seven or eight law firms and aims to reduce the panel to three. The three will be based in London, Bristol and possibly Reading.

“It's mainly for the over-spill of general UK work, as opposed to the high powered deals which we will continue to tender on an ad hoc basis.”

He says that Lucent does not want to pay magic circle fees for advice on areas such as property and employment.

The telecommunication manufacturer's current UK line-up includes Eversheds and Irish firm Arthur Cox as main players.

Osborne Clarke has also advised Lucent and Taylor Joynson Garrett has been retained for specialist IP work.

Corporate counsel Jasper Meyers says Lucent may select its panel at Legal Monte Carlo, but other processes are also under way.

Meyers says: “We are engaged in formal tender.

“We have acquired a lot of business through acquisition and those businesses have links with a number of different law firms.”

The review process is expected to slim down the panel of law firms by using a “horses for courses” approach.

“City firms charge around u300 an hour for legal advice and sometimes it's better to allocate a firm based along the M4 corridor, for example,” says Meyers.

Lucent Technologies is among the latest top in-house counsel to confirm attendance at Legal Monte Carlo '99. Others include British Gas Trading, Centrica, Lazard Brothers, Standard Life Assurance, United Assurance, L'Oreal, Computacenter, SSL International, Independent Insurance Group and European Communication Management.