Richards Butler to lead PwC panel

Richards Butler has won a lead role on a new law firm panel set up by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to advise on all outsourcing work of which it is a customer.

While Richards Butler, not well known for outsourcing, has been given a lead place on the panel, Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, Herbert Smith and Linklaters, which are better known for outsourcing and are long-term PwC advisers, have been left off.

The other firm on the panel is outsourcing specialist Shaw Pittman. The work involves acting for the accountancy giant when it buys in services from contractors.

A source at a rival firm expressed surprise at Richards Butler’s “prime role” on the panel. “There are more logical choices of firms than Richards Butler. However, there are senior people at PwC who believe it is time Richards Butler got its turn at doing some major work for it,” he said.

Richards Butler recently acted for Land Securities Trillium on major outsourcing deals for the BBC and the Department of Work and Pensions. The firm has acted for PwC on corporate and risk management work. Its client contact partner is Roger Parker, who is the firm’s managing partner. Richards Butler declined to comment.

Barlow Lyde has acted on major pieces of litigation and outsourcing work for PwC. Its relationship with the accountancy firm stems mainly from its previous relationship with PwC Consulting, before it was sold to IBM.

A spokesperson said that the decision to set up the panel forms part of PwC’s review of all of its “ongoing operations”. They declined to comment on the choice of firms.

Herbert Smith said that it is not surprised that it has not been chosen for the panel as it has handled only one major outsorucing deal for PwC recently. Linklaters was not available for comment.