Shell sets to work on major revamp of external legal roster

Royal Dutch Shell is reviewing its global legal panel for the first time in three years.

The last major panel review saw the energy giant slim down its roster to include Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance,Cravath Swaine & Moore and Simmons & Simmons (26 April 2010).

Last time round, bids were invited across eight practice areas with one adviser per category and some firms given geographic remits.

The current review is understood to be led by Shell general counsel Peter Rees QC alongside associate general counsel Kim Phillips.

A Shell spokesman said: “We can confirm that the external legal panel for Royal Dutch Shell plc is currently being reviewed. We have no further comment to make at this stage.”

Last year Shell launched a new global disputes group to handle its litigation and arbitration with the hire of Fulbright & Jaworski partner Richard Hill as the group’s associate general counsel (7 May 2012).

The company has more than 70 lawyers with a 600-strong legal team worldwide and Hill’s appointment was part of a drive to provide more specialised legal advice in-house.

Rees, who joined from Debevoise & Plimpton’s London office as legal director in January 2011, spoke to The Lawyer last year about his in-house role with Shell (2 April 2012).

The sectors that firms are likely to pitch for are M&A portfolio; project development; antitrust; IP services, including patent and trademark applications; dispute compliance; anti-bribery and corruption support; international resolution; and trading.

During the 2009 bidding process, Shell said the pressures of wider economic conditions were part of the rationale for a tightened roster. As part of the process, firms provided alternative billing options.