The sun goes down on panel reviews

After a brilliant spell of sunshine it looks like winter is well on its way. Things are getting decidedly frosty in the panel review process. Lawyers and clients have lined up to sling mud at each other this week over the increasingly tense negotiation that is the panel review.

In the blue corner, general counsel are accusing private practice firms of laziness, arrogance and complacence in their approach to panel reviews. In the red corner, lawyers are slamming clients for online tendering systems – “a complete waste of time” – and procurement-led processes.

Both sides seem to be taking an ‘it’s not me, it’s you’ attitude, as cost-cutting pressures from the client side and heightened competition on the firm side raise the stakes for all.

This year has already seen several high profile reviews defined by a step away from the status quo. In March, Royal Dutch Shell scrapped its global legal panel in favour of individual relationships with firms in different countries.

Panel reviews are still on most GCs’ to-do lists. But with two-thirds of in-house lawyers having no written evaluation procedure to measure performance, it looks like private practice lawyers are still getting away lightly.

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