Signalling the change

Nothing keeps a private practice lawyer on their toes quite as much as having to brush up on their presentation skills to pitch for coveted spots on legal panels.

Network Rail is the latest company to reveal that it is gearing up to review its roster of advisers, inviting 20 firms including Clifford Chance, Eversheds and Simmons & Simmons to pitch for its panel.

The review is the first to be run by the transport infrastructure group’s general counsel Suzanne Wise, who joined the company in September this year.

Wise was previously general counsel at Premier Foods and is no stranger to panel processes, having set up an inaugural legal panel there that saw Eversheds, Slaughter and May and Wragge & Co all gain places.

At Premier she was keen to keep as much work in-house as possible, but if her own team’s work ethic is anything to go by – at Premier she oversaw a lean in-house team that worked around the clock to close the disposal of the company’s meat-free business to Exponent Private Equity for £205m – Wise will certainly be putting the firms through their paces.

Network Rail last reviewed its panel in 2009 and Wise expects the new line-up to be in place no later than April next year.