Bupa’s employment law team launches panel review

Bupa Group’s employment law team is embarking on its second-ever panel review, with three spots expected to be up for grabs.


The company’s employment law team is inviting firms to get in touch to express their interest in pitching for places on its panel of external advisers. Firms have until 14 September to register their interest, at which point the tender process will begin. The legal team, which has an annual spend of around £150,000, wants to complete the review in time for the start of 2013.

Bupa Group Legal Employment did its first panel review in 2009, when DAC Beachcroft (or Beachcroft, as it was then), DLA Piper and Pinsent Masons all won places from a shortlist of around seven or eight firms.

The latest review comes as Bupa takes a closer look at its panel firms in terms of quality and pricing. Bupa already runs a hybrid-pricing model with its external law firms, combining hourly rates and fixed fees, and believes firms have become more flexible as to how they price services. Employment law head Richard Horbury said that there will most likely be three panel spots up for grabs again. That figure is not set in stone, but Horbury wants enough panel members to ensure competitive tension while not spreading its legal spend too thinly.

Successful firms will advise the legal employment team on technical issues as well as on dispute management and litigation. Horbury said that he is looking for firms with an international capacity to match Bupa’s expansion across the world, though he has no preference between wholly owned offices or alliance networks. Horbury added that his team will also be asking for information about firms’ pensions capabilities.

Bupa now holds a panel review for at least one of its legal groups, such as care services or insurance, every year (14 March 2011). Changes to how Bupa handles its relationships with external law firms were rung in by general counsel Paul Newton, who The Lawyer profiled in July 2011 (18 July 2011).