Bevan Ashford joins regional giants to win panel place in AWM retender

Pinsent Curtis Biddle and Wragge & Co snubbed as Midlands development agency chooses four law firms for new panel

Bevan Ashford’s new Birmingham office has been appointed to the Advantage West Midlands (AWM) panel for the first time, after a retendering held by the regional development agency.
DLA, Eversheds and Hammond Suddards Edge are also on the new panel, but Pinsent Curtis Biddle was not reappointed. Birmingham heavyweight Wragge & Co is also understood to have pitched, but was unsuccessful.

Bevan Ashford is a surprise appointment to the panel. The South West firm launched in Birmingham only last year, but it does have two other regional development agencies under its belt. It already acts for both the South West and South East regional development agencies.

The Birmingham office was set up with the aim of enhancing the service to existing Midlands clients in health, employment and projects and to win new business for the firm.

Eversheds acts for all nine of the regional development agencies in varying capacities.

The lengthy retendering process was led by AWM’s corporate and business services manager Steve Mullaney.

AWM found itself using a long list of legal advisers after it was formed in 1999 by an amalgamation of the Midlands divisions of the Rural Development Commission, English Partnerships, and inward investment agencies. The retendering was aimed at consolidating its legal outsourcing.

A spokesperson for the agency said: “At various times, we’ve all had different legal advisers. We’ve drawn a line underneath that and set up a new list.”

The appointments were made verbally last week and contracts had yet to be signed as The Lawyer went to press. They will take effect from the start of April.

AWM is a key regional client with a high profile. It had a budget of £159m for 2000-2001. As the development agency for the region, it is charged with developing a regional economic strategy and then ensuring its implementation. It works closely with public, private and voluntary sector partners and also has a direct role itself, providing investment to support regeneration, inward investment, business growth and skills development.

AWM’s main legal needs are generated by its property-related activities.