Shell advisers in focus as global panel review gets underway

Royal Dutch Shell has kicked off a review of its global legal panel, in a move that will lead to the company’s first overhaul of its primary legal advisers since 2010. 

General counsel Peter Rees QC confirmed that the energy and petrochemical giant had begun the process of reviewing its preferred advisers, with the new panel expected to be complete by the end of the first quarter of 2013.

The last review of Shell’s global roster in 2010 saw fewer than 10 firms appointed, including magic circle duo Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy as well as Hogan Lovells and Jones Day. Former corporate adviser Slaughter and May missed out on a formal spot.

Shell’s downstream GC Hans von der Linde, who is involved in the review process alongside Rees, said the review is looking at how law firms can supplement the work already carried out by Shell’s team of more than 1,200 legal professionals.

“We’ve taken a hard look at working out what we can do, and we look at firms as supplementing what we can do ourselves,” said Von der Linde. “In certain specialist areas, it might be a significant contribution. In many areas, it is just assisting us and joining up the areas we may need some help with.”

According to Von der Linde, many projects in his team are now headed by senior lawyers at Shell rather than external advisers. 

News of the review comes after last year’s hire of Fulbright & Jaworski City disputes partner Richard Hill as associate general counsel of Shell’s new in-house disputes group, as part of an internal reorganisation aimed at simplifying the company’s structure and reporting lines. Following Hill’s hire, it emerged that Shell was also set to appoint a global litigation panel. 

Rees joined Shell at the end of 2010 from US law firm Debevoise & Plimpton, replacing incumbent Beat Hess as head of Shell’s legal function in 2011.

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