Freshfields out in the cold as L&G unveils new panel

Magic circle firm ditched despite FSA triumph; BLP clings on after Veneik debacle.

Freshfields out in the cold as L&G unveils new panelAllen & Overy (A&O) has usurped Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer on Legal & General’s (L&G) panel after the insurer completed a full review of its legal advisers.

Freshfields is the only magic circle firm not to win a place on the new three-year roster, with A&O among?the?nine?new ­advisers to secure a spot.

Berwin Leighton Paisner has retained its place on the panel despite relationship partner Vinay Veneik leaving the firm last year after failing to pay stamp duty on numerous transactions.

Commenting on the ­decision not to include Freshfields, L&G group legal manager Sarah O’Malley said: “We weren’t really using them a fantastic deal. There are only so many magic circle firms you can have.”

Freshfields had worked for L&G for a number of years and in 2005 successfully advised the company on a challenge to a Financial Services Authority claim of widespread mis-selling. ­Disputes partners David Scott and Simon Orton acted on the case.

A Freshfields spokesperson argued that the L&G account “is quite a big relationship for us”, but declined to comment specifically on the panel review.

“We’ve been involved with them in a number of practice areas. We’ve worked on a huge amount,” she said.

O’Malley said L&G head of legal Geoffrey Timms (pictured) will be able to go off-panel in exceptional circumstances, but added: “There isn’t a major name that we’re ­currently working with that isn’t on the panel.”

This is the company’s first review since 2004, when 16 firms won places. Other firms on the previous panel that are not included on the new list are Ashurst, Clyde &?Co,?CMS?Cameron McKenna, Norton Rose and Taylor Wessing.

One Ashurst partner with knowledge of the L&G account denied his firm’s relationship had come to an end, saying: “We continue to act on L&G Ventures.”

Unlike in previous years, when five separate panels were launched, on this ­occasion L&G decided to amalgamate the firms advising on property, investment management, ventures, ­savings and risk, as well as the group-wide corporate relationship, under one roof.

“I could instruct any of the firms on here for ­anything I think suitable – it gives us more flexibility,” said O’Malley.

Legal & General’s new panel

• Allen & Overy
• Beachcroft
• Berwin Leighton Paisner
Clifford Chance
• Dundas & Wilson
• Halliwells
Jones Day
• LG
• Maples Teesdale
• McGrigors
• Sacker & Partners
• Simmons & Simmons
Slaughter and May
Speechly Bircham
Wragge & Co

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