Bird & Bird trims sector groups as it reviews relationship firms

Bird & Bird has cut its sector groups from 11 to eight as it reviews its relationship firms across the globe.

The international firm has rationalised its sector groups into broader areas as a reaction to changes in the spread of industries across its client base.

The new groups are: aviation and defence; automotive; energy and utilities; financial services; healthcare and life sciences; media, entertainment and sport; retail and consumer; technology and communications.

The changes mean the firm’s aviation group and its aerospace, defence and security group have merged, while its food and beverage group has broadened into the retail and consumer group.

Meanwhile, the firm is currently undertaking a review of its global best friend relationships.

The firm is reviewing the firms it uses in each jurisdiction to ensure its partners are directing work to the same local firms.

Bird & Bird chief executive David Kerr told Legal Week: “We have a large global footprint but where we’re not in a particular country we like to have strong relationships with firms that can cover what we need in other markets, particularly the bigger ones. This includes Africa and America, as well as Asia-Pacific countries.”

The review of the firm’s relationship firms is undertaken by the management team for each area, with individual partners involved depending on their experience.

Kerr stressed that the firm’s international capabilities are always closely looked at.

He said: “We put a lot of time into it and have a lot of people engaged in making it happen.”

While Kerr said that the firm “would never say no” to the idea of a full merger with a US firm to increase its stateside capabilities, there are no present plans to do so.

He added: “We’ve managed to keep and evolve our core strategy for the last 20 years and are keen to hold true to that.”

Bird & Bird last made significant steps to broaden its global offering two years ago.

In November 2014, the firm converted its cooperation agreement with Australian firm Truman Hoyle into a full merger, after entering the Korean market through a non-exclusive partnership with Seoul-based outfit Hwang Mok Park.

It also entered Indonesia in the same year, via two cooperation agreements with domestic firms K&K Advocates and Nurjadin Sumono Mulyadi & Partners.