US firms tango with Big Six accountants

Four leading US law firms have approached Price Waterhouse in the past month about an association or possible merger. The move is a first indication that US law firms may globalise their businesses hand-in-hand with the Big Six accountants rather than with UK law firms.

Paul Downing, head of Price Waterhouse's European legal network, told The Lawyer that four US practices – one of which was one of the leading firms in North America – had approached PW within the past four weeks.

Partners from two of the firms came to Price Waterhouse's headquarters in London to float various proposals, which included putting US lawyers in Price Waterhouse's overseas offices.

It is likely that the US firms have approached other Big Six accountants with similar plans.

The reason for the sudden flurry of interest is not clear, although it may have been triggered by Coopers & Lybrand's announcement on 8 February this year- widely publicised in the US legal press – that it was forming its own standalone law firm in the UK.