Every law department has a few law firms they view as their stalwarts, their old-reliables, their go-to firms. Sometimes called primary law firms, they are known quantities and qualities – they are the reigning incumbents. A more formal designation, and the more European term, is a panel.
My sense of the differences between the terms is that (1) a panel is generally larger than the normal handful of primary firms, (2) a panel handles a higher percentage of the department’s work, and (3) a panel has a certain duration, such as two years, and a rebidding for positions on it at the end of the term.
Having collected my posts twice before on panels, it fell time to update another metapost (See my post of May 19, 2009: Sainsbury panel; May 21, 2009: Nestles and its core panel; Aug. 19, 2009 #2: best practices for panel retention and management; Sept. 22, 2009 #2: rule of thumb for how many to invite; Nov. 13, 2009: Royal Bank of Scotland; Dec. 7, 2009: Telstra and its panels; Feb. 2, 2010: fairness to panel firms if the department hires a specialist; Oct. 7, 2010 #4: panels protect in-house attorneys from seekers of work; Dec. 3, 2010: Network Rail’s panel; Dec. 10, 2010: ITV’s panel; Jan. 14, 2011: psychological benefit of panels that reduce choices; March 16, 2011: French departments and panels; June 8, 2011: finding specialists even with panel; July 19, 2011: Liberty Mutual and 1,000 on panel; and Aug. 15, 2011: ProcureLaw and panel instructions.).