Firms lose out as Ford slashes bills by a third

Ailing corporate giant Ford Motors has asked several of its main UK advisers, including Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Lovells and Wragge & Co, to slash their legal bills to get Ford's overall legal spend down, according to one source, by 35 per cent

It is understood that lawyers from Berwin Leighton Paisner, Freshfields, Lovells, Salans and Wragges were invited to a meeting at Ford on 4 October with Ford general counsel Michael Marecki. Denton Wilde Sapte also works for Ford, but was not present at the meeting.
Rather than cut hourly rates, the firms were asked to come up with creative ways of reducing fees, such as success-based billing.
The head of corporate at one magic circle firm said: “There may be a tactical benefit to having everybody in the room at the same time. It can put pressure on.” However, a lawyer close to the process said: “Ford has traditionally been slow to squeeze the best out of its external advisers.”
Lovells and Wragges both do a lot of work for Ford, which neither can afford to lose. However, an insider said: “There were firms at that meeting that won't get business in the future.”
The conglomerate has been trying to cut costs for some time. After a $5.45bn (£3.49bn) worldwide loss last year, it has tried to speed up cost-cutting and announced earlier this year that it would cut 35,000 jobs worldwide. However, in July chief financial officer Allan Gilmour admitted that Ford was six months behind with its restructuring plans.
A Ford spokesperson said the review was an internal matter and one on which the firm would not comment.