Private healthcare company Bupa is drastically cutting back the amount of work it gives to Slaughter and May in favour of cheaper regional law firm Walker Morris.
A source tells The Lawyer that a "substantial proportion" of the work that goes to Slaughters is being transferred to the Leeds-based firm.
The two firms have worked side by side on Bupa deals coming from its London head office in the past months. That bi-partisan arrangement is set to continue, but with Walker Morris receiving the lion's share.
The source says that corporate work, Slaughters' strong point, will go to Walker Morris.
Bupa's head of legal Paul Newton in the past has slammed City firms for charging exorbitant rates (The Lawyer, 15 March).
But now it is pressing ahead with its ntention to move into the regions.
The source tells The Lawyer that a team from Bupa visited Walkers earlier this year and was impressed by its use of IT, believing it would make communication with London simpler.
Bupa, which enjoyed a UK turnover of £50m in 1998/99, last year used Slaughters, Beachcroft Wansbroughs, Clyde & Co, Cameron McKenna, Denton Hall and Field Fisher Waterhouse.