The Leader column

That will put the cat among the pigeons, Alan Whitfield. Fancy suggesting that law firms try and make the client fit their services rather than the other way round.

The move of BT's head of legal to Klegal will ruffle a few feathers among non-accountancy firms as he has passed by all the TMT specialist firms, which would have married Buzby to get Whitfield through the door, to gain both insider knowledge and BT as a client. It would, of course, be far too provocative to suggest that if Whitfield had a closer relationship with his external firms at BT then one of them might have become an obvious next move for him.

To add insult to injury he then suggests that most law firms are not able to understand the first thing about what clients actually want and that multi-disciplinary practices are the best placed to offer a full service.

Now in some respects Whitfield's pronouncements on his new home are not a surprise. During his time at BT instructing external counsel was a rarity. He has handled most of the work in-house, presumably believing that no one can handle the work better than his own huge team.

But when you look at the list of firms that he did choose on rare occasions, guess what? There are no accountancy-linked firms, despite the fact that KPMG acts for BT and so managed to put some work in the hands of KLegal. Nothing like putting your money where your mouth is.

Now if Whitfield is ruffling feathers here, then Allen & Overy certainly is in New York. Hats off to them for being able to persuade a Cravath Swaine & Moore partner away from a partnership so loyal one imagines that they all have the name tattooed over their hearts.

And the first one to leave the fold is not even tempted by a fellow US firm, but into the arms of the Brits. Allen & Overy must be pinching themselves at the moment – especially since Dan Cunningham has persuaded others to follow.

Potentially Allen & Overy has made a classier move than the home run that the Clifford Chance/Rogers & Wells merger was. But it is certainly a sign that the Brits are playing to win in New York. And there are a few star batters prepared to join their teams.