Legal advice trends ‘favour larger law practices’

New partner: Richard Foley. Picture: Contributed
New partner: Richard Foley. Picture: Contributed
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LARGE corporations are shrinking their legal panels and even opting to hire a sole adviser on a fixed-price deal, according to the new senior partner at Pinsent Masons.

Richard Foley was speaking to Scotland on Sunday as he took the reins of the law firm last week. He said the move favours big players that can provide advice on a full range of issues and deal in both English and Scots law. Pinsent Masons cemented its position north of the Border by swallowing Scots heavyweight McGrigors in 2012.

It was part of a wave of consolidation in the sector which could be given new impetus by the latest trend.

Foley said: “There is a continuing shrinkage of panel numbers as businesses recognise that the more they focus on a smaller number of legal services providers, the better the deal they can construct.

“I think it’s a recognition that if you get a good, stable relationship that you can invest in, both from a supplier and a customer point of view, you are likely to get more out of it.”

The firm has gained sole advisor contracts with large corporations such as Balfour Beatty and Eon UK, as well as KCA Deutag in Scotland.

“I think we will see much more of that,” Foley said. “We are seeing a number of major players in industry talking to us about sole provider arrangements.”

He said that although it might seem like better value can be achieved by tendering each legal job separately, firms in sole adv­isor roles are highly incentivised to keep the client happy. “They are two- or three-year deals but we hope we will become such an integral part of our clients’ business that they will always want to remain alongside us,” he said.