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The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has completed a wide-ranging shake-up of its legal team following its takeover of NatWest earlier this year.The shake-up under new head of legal, Miller MacLean, has taken six months to complete and has seen the dismantling of NatWest’s retail legal arm Enderby Melling.With 27 job losses from a merged legal function of 160 the fallout is less than anticipated, but MacLean said he plans to exert greater control over the bank’s legal function.MacLean confirmed that Enderby Melling, which has operated as a law firm within NatWest with its own offices and notepaper, has been closed, but said all but six of its lawyers have been absorbed into the central legal function that serves RBS’s retail base. MacLean also confirmed that the in-house advisers to the wealth management team at NatWest, which includes Coutts & Co, have been saved, despite press reports earlier this year that it had been targeted for job cuts.Chalmer Carr, who heads the Coutts team of seven lawyers, declined to comment, except to say that he was “pleased” with the outcome. MacLean said it had never been the intention to cut jobs across the board. “Twenty-seven losses is not an insignificant number. But we did not go into it to cut. We wanted to integrate the two groups of people and provide an effective and efficient central function,” he said.He added that the main difference between the two legal teams was that NatWest had a more devolved process. “Some business units had their own legal function and developed their own needs. RBS has a well-defined control network and we have extended that.”But MacLean said that so far the merger has not hit external advisers.He said there would not be a major review of external legal providers, although he added that he would be keeping a “close eye” on the law firms that are used.NatWest panel firms include Linklaters & Alliance, Slaughter and May, Denton Wilde Sapte, Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy.RBS does not have a fixed panel for group work, although Freshfields is its main corporate adviser in England. Dundas & Wilson is the group’s principal adviser north of the border.MacLean beat Christopher Fitzgerald, his NatWest counterpart, to the top legal post in the combined bank earlier this year. (Legal Week, 23 March.)

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