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Coming to America. British Bank moves its roster of legal firms to America

Posted by: Laurence Simons 17/07/14

After all the recent trouble they and other banks have got into, one might imagine the last thing Barclays Bank could afford to do is have fewer lawyers on board to steer it through the minefields into which it appears powerless not to blunder.

However, that is exactly what has happened as the bank that brought us Libor fixing and was embroiled in the PPI mis-selling affair has sought to drop a load of British legal firms.

This twin move - reducing its extended roster of legal firms by 30 per cent and shifting business to the US - has seen five of the eight new core advisory spots going to American companies. 

However, Barclays has increased the number of 'core' legal firms it works with to 19 with the new move, which sees Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, Latham & Watkins, Cadwalader, Boies Schiller & Flexner and Davis Polk & Wardwell all coming on board. First-time appointments include Sullivan & Cromwell, which is working on an ongoing case concerning many banks alleged to have manipulated Libor.

For those unaware of who these outfits are, the chances are they soon will be, as if Barclays carries on its form of recent years their services will soon be in much demand.

The bank's General Counsel Bob Hoyt commented: "I am pleased to announce the conclusion of our review of legal suppliers - a process that ensures we have the right choice of panel firms to meet our diverse needs, deliver excellent value and high standards.

"Our simplified legal panel, made up of preferred and approved firms, will provide the broad range of expertise and in-depth knowledge of Barclays required to support our business lines globally."

All that sounds rather useful, given the 'diverse needs' have ranged across all sorts of self-inflicted problems. As for the in-depth knowledge of Barclays, that is certainly something they have given lots of lawyers a chance to get. 

Of course, it is not just Barclays that has made major business errors or fallen the wrong side of the law. That may be a relief for those law firms no longer on the roster, who can readily seek more bank-related work elsewhere.