Pinsents wins Balfour Beatty mandate

Pinsents wins Balfour Beatty work, but it’s getting harder to make big-name rosters

Every law firm wants to be on the panel of a big company. But with fees falling and the sophistication of in-house departments rising, the benefits are not as obvious as they used to be.

That’s why Pinsent Masons is justifiably delighted by its appointment as Balfour Beatty’s go-to adviser for all the infrastructure giant’s ‘business-as-usual’ work. That means the firm gets a fixed fee for the easy-to-manage stuff – minor litigation, contracts and so on.

Chris Vaughan
Vaughan: targeting costs and risk

Crucially, Pinsents also retains a spot on the company’s panel for complex work, alongside other regulars like Allen & Overy, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Eversheds and Linklaters. The firm’s client strategy head Alastair Morrison thinks that by having the mandate for retained work, Pinsents will be an obvious adviser for the complex work as it comes up.

Balfour Beatty general counsel Chris Vaughan says his model is one for the future and will enable him to target both legal costs and business risk.

Meanwhile, other companies are also reviewing the way they source external advice. Shell’s decision to move away from a global panel in favour of firms with stronger capabilities in individual jurisdictions could be a boost for independents, some of which have found the going tough in the face of internationalisation.

The main takeaway from all this reviewing is that no firm can hope to simply retain work from a trophy client without working on the relationship and offering proper value for money.