CMS Cameron McKenna clinches key place on BT global panel

Chris Watson

Chris Watson

BT has announced its new global legal panel, with CMS Cameron McKenna winning a seat at the table.

The telecoms giant has appointed Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, CMS Cameron McKenna, with Bird & Bird retaining its place.

Linklaters and Addleshaw Goddard lost their places, after an unusually long review for the company that began in March this year.

BT Legal requested new billing arrangements and, in a first for the company, held an e-auction for the firms in the real estate group.

“We were looking at trying to foster closer relationships with a smaller number of firms,” explained Ian Jones, BT’s head of assets and real estate, legal and commercial.

“It was about getting more lawyers off the clock and putting them in a more proactive role. We didn’t want them to just be advisors on the end of the phone. The global reach of the firms was also important.

“It’s been a really hard task and taken longer than we thought, but it is a very important decision.”

It is believed that 26 firms pitched to be on the panel. The new firms will offer supplementary legal services primarily in the corporate, commercial and antitrust/regulation fields. BT said it is looking to “forge new ways with the firms in delivering legal services on a value for money basis”.

Cameron’s telecoms partner Chris Watson is to be the new relationship partner for the BT account. Watson confirmed that the firm’s international reach helped clinch it a place.

“We’re really delighted to have the opportunity to work with BT as part of its global legal panel,” said Watson.” We look forward to a really successful partnership.

Anne Fletcher, the BT Group General Counsel, said: “BT Legal looks forward to working with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, CMS Cameron McKenna and Bird & Bird. We are keen to develop a modern, global based legal consultancy model which is not available to us through the traditional solicitor/client relationship. These firms have proved that they are forward thinking and by embracing our ideas will help us to achieve our goal.”

BT Legal is continuing to review its arrangements for international litigation and employment, whilst working with existing suppliers including HBJ Gateley Wareing, Proskauer Rose and Simmons & Simmons as well as the new panelists.

The company has also appointed five law firms that will carry out UK real estate work: HBJ Gateley Wareing and Trowers & Hamlins supported by Bird & Bird, Cripps Harries Hall and Wright Hassall.

The panel will be reviewed again in March 2012.