Panel ordeal begins

The roster action is finally getting going, with high street names making their moves

The panel review process is a nail-biting time for law firms, particularly when a climate of reduced rosters is fuelling stiff competition over places. 

The year so far has been slow for reviews, with companies dragging their heels over change. But now things are beginning to hot up and firms will feel it’s been a long time coming, having waited with bated breath for news of a new position or worse – a swift boot out of a secure panel berth.

In the past month several high street giants have unveiled new panels. On Monday (21 October) revealed that Allen & Overy, Linklaters and Olswang were among those to have missed out on a spot on the Legal & General (L&G) panel after the insurer cut its adviser roster from 19 to five.

That followed Morrisons’ legal shake-up the previous week. It’s all change at the retailer which has beefed up its in-house team and launched its brand new panel in the wake of its first-ever review. New general counsel Mark Amsden has added 15 firms to a six-area panel and the company plans to boost its legal team from four to eight by the end of the year.

Also cranking up the wheels of change this month has been Nationwide, where a panel launch was followed swiftly by news of general counsel Liz Kelly’s departure.

A mid-tier firm source says reviews are “a painful process for banks and for firms” and it looks like clients have decided to take their medicine, doling out a spoonful of sugar to some firms and a painful pill to others.