PwC Norway firm sheds lawyers

The Norwegian branch of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) legal arm is splitting from its managing partner and a team of around 30 business lawyers after deciding to focus on tax.
Managing partner Peter Simonsen and seven other partners will take the team to Simonsen’s former firm Simonsen Føyen. They leave PwC with 12 partners and a total of 65 lawyers.
“It was a global strategic decision not to have legal
advisers as a core business of PwC. Due to a business evaluation, legal matters aren’t a core business anymore,” said Knut Ekern, who replaces Simonsen as managing partner for Norway.
The PwC law firm will now focus on tax, VAT and transactional support.
Ekern said the decision was prompted by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, EU recommendations relating to audit clients and expected regulatory changes in Norway.
Simonsen countered that Norwegian bar rules and local Securities and Exchange Commission rules were not an issue and said that the decision was made due to the stricter regulatory requirements of the US and EU.
The option of starting a semi-independent firm was explored, but it was decided a clean break and a merger with a larger Norwegian law firm was the best option.
Simonsen rejoins the firm he originally joined in 1988 with his father. They are both related to its founder. “It’s like coming home,” he said.
Simonsen cited synergies in oil and gas, corporate, securities and public services as strategic reasons for joining Simonsen Føyen.