Marsh, the flagship operation of the world’s largest insurance broker Marsh & McLellan, is attempting to build a cross-referral network between its law firm clients and the corporates on its books

Marsh is insurance broker to more than 40 per cent of the top-100 UK law firms and has begun an initiative to encourage its corporate clients to instruct them. However, there are fears among such firms that Marsh will make access to the law firms’ corporate clients a condition of gaining a place on its retail panel.

“Marsh is attempting to bully law firms into a virtuous circle of cross-referring work,” said an insider at one firm that works with the broker.

The Lawyer understands that the arrangement is reciprocal, and Marsh is encouraging firms that use it as a broker to recommend its services to their clients.

A Marsh spokesperson said: “Where firms we work closely with have services that can help our corporate clients, then we will help our clients find those services if they need them.”

Marsh is helping its law firm clients to arrange seminars and marketing events aimed at the broker’s corporate clients, to showcase their expertise in areas such as M&A work and tax.

The Lawyer understands that Marsh is working with other professional service firms in the same way. “We are working with law firms and other third parties to develop services such as tax, M&A and the like for our corporate clients,” said the spokesperson.

Marsh also instructs a number of insurance specialist law firms through a loose panel system, and sources inside these firms have told The Lawyer that the broker is also after their clients.

Marsh is understood to be reviewing its UK retail panel, which firms such as Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, Beachcroft Wansbroughs, Berrymans Lace Mawer and DLA are expected to apply for.