Scourge of the external advisers

If in-house cost-cutting king Nick Deeming joins one of your client companies, good luck

They called RBS chief Fred Goodwin ‘Fred the Shred’ because of his reputation for ruthless cost-saving, but the world of in-house lawyers seems to have its own version of an expert in fast turnarounds and waste-slashing in the form of Nick Deeming.

Deeming resigned on 23 October as senior vice-president, general counsel and assistant corporate secretary of offshore drilling group Transocean, the Swiss-based owner and operator of the infamous Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

The chief legal position was at least Deeming’s eighth in-house role in a career lasting 30 years.

But what marks out Deeming is his record of coming in, shaking things up and leaving.

He only joined Transocean in early 2011 from auctioneer Christie’s where, as general counsel, he cut the company’s list of advisers from 70 firms to 13.

In his previous job as chief legal officer at Linde Group he reduced the energy specialist’s number of advisers from 150 to five – even dropping Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Slaughter and May – and heralded the company’s ‘Linde Model’ for its in-house legal operations.

In 2000 Deeming oversaw previous employer Sema’s reduction of its law firm count from 15 to one, with Bird & Bird winning the sole place as primary adviser to the IT company.

Wherever Deeming ends up next, external advisers had better beware.