A&O-DLA best friends relationship hits snag

The burgeoning best friends relationship of Allen & Overy’s (A&O) technology group and DLA’s technology, media and communications group has been interrupted by an A&O conflict of interest.

The firms are understood to have expressed a desire to work with each other on projects that are too big to handle on their own.

Both have been chosen to advise on the NHS’s landmark £5bn National Programme for IT, expected to be the largest IT project in the world this year, and both are also advising Barclays on its IT projects, after being selected from its existing legal panel.

However, only DLA will advise on what is currently Barclays’ largest IT project, the outsourcing of its desktop operations, after A&O client EDS was selected to conduct feasibility studies for the project.

The two firms are expected to each bill more than £1m a year on the NHS project, which will take place over the next three years.

In a separate deal, DLA has exploited its growing list of telecoms clients to secure instructions from an industry group of nine telecoms operators, possibly bagging five new clients in the process.

Existing DLA clients Cable & Wireless, Colt Telecommunications, Kingston Communications and WorldCom have teamed up with Energis, Global Crossing, NTL, Thus and Your Communications to negotiate a contract for partial private circuits with BT following an Oftel directive on the matter in December 2002.

DLA associate Purvi Parekh, who has worked in-house at Colt and First Telecom, is advising the operators.