Public crawl

Slimmer pickings for firms on public sector rosters

Transport for London’s (TfL) decision to cut its legal panel from 12 firms to 11 has almost as much to do with firms’ choices as TfL’s strategy. Travers Smith, one of four firms to leave the panel, elected not to tender for a place after not receiving one iota of work from the client in five years.

Bird & Bird, Clifford Chance and Manches did apply for reappointment but were not chosen, although Clifford Chance will continue to carry out specialist finance and capital markets work for the local government body. Manches’ exit follows the departure of projects partner Giles Clifford, an adviser to TfL, to panel firm Wragge & Co earlier this year.

Lewis Silkin, SNR Denton and Trowers & Hamlins are the new additions to the list. They join existing panellists Ashurst, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Eversheds, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills, K&L Gates, Simmons & Simmons and Wragges.

TfL director of legal Andrea Clarke, who led the review alongside general counsel Howard Carter, said the body needed to “manage costs ever more cautiously”, which presumably was not a hint that it would continue the policy of not handing any work to a given panel firm.

But after other big public sector organisations such as the Metropolitan Police slimmed down their panels, with Bircham Dyson Bell, Burges Salmon and Eversheds among those to leave the Met’s roster earlier this year, things are not looking great for public sector specialists.