Network Rail ensures lawyers will avoid cattle class

We all know what it’s like when you’ve booked a first-class ticket and there’s no space. Having to squeeze into the cramped standard-class section for the full trip home can be a pain, especially on a Friday when you wanted to use the time to reply to those last few emails you’d left for the journey.

So spare a thought for the few firms on Network Rail’s panel that have been robbed, voluntarily or not, of their seat in the premium carriage.

Clifford Chance, Kennedys and Winckworth Sherwood have all alighted the company’s sole core roster and boarded a newly formed list of specialists advisers for specific matters such as treasury or health and safety work.

The reason: Network Rail had its legal spend “spread too thinly across a panel of 12 firms”, according to the company’s statement. The in-house team’s driver Suzanne Wise, who previously headed the legal team at Premier Foods, said she was not dissatisfied with any of the former panellists.

Post-merger Dentons has been added to the core panel for another four years together with existing advisers Addleshaw Goddard, Bond Pearce and Eversheds, as well as Maclay Murray & Spens. But firms such as Berrymans, Bircham Dyson Bell, and Simmons & Simmons are left standing on the platform despite being invited to pitch.

The tickets are being rationed, but at least those who find one are guaranteed the seat they’ve paid for.


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