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US chemical company Du Pont has struck a deal with the 34 law firms it instructs to ensure all lawyers who work with the firm are recruited from the same agency.
The mass contract with US recruitment agency the Wallace Law Registry is believed to be a first in the US.
According to agency president Shelley Wallace, it is the start of a new kind of relationship between law firms, their clients and agencies.
Under the deal the agency will also recruit all the comp-any's in-house lawyers.
Wallace, a lawyer herself, said: "This unusual arrangement has arisen out of the special relationship that Du Pont has with the law firms that serve it. It arranges communal meetings for the firms and has recently spent millions placing the 34 firms on the same computer network so they can keep in contact. It also actively seeks new clients for the firms.
"The thinking behind this latest recruitment arrangement is about trying to achieve a consistent service and is part of a three-pronged effort of law firms, clients and providers working together."
But Victoria Hall, a recruitment consultant at London based Badenoch & Clark, said of the deal: "Although exclusive arrangements with industry clients are common, the idea of a client dictating to a law firm over recruitment is unheard of and, in my opinion, is not in the interests of the client or the firm."