PwC plans total integration of legal network

Big five accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is planning to impose a new integrated structure for its entire legal network and a common brand name before the end of the year.

The accountancy giant has appointed branding consultancy Interbrand Newell & Sorrell to come up with a single global name for its law firms which include the UK's Arnheim Tite & Lewis, under one global brand name.

PwC's law firms currently have 20 different titles in 40 countries.

It is also imposing common standards and obligations to make the network as close to a single law firm as possible within the constraints of national law societies and bar associations.

Peter Wyman, external affairs partner for PwC's legal services, says that the overhaul will impose common internal practices for all network firms, including rules for admission to partnership.

“You can't have somebody in Belgium going around admitting people to partnership who in the UK would be regarded as junior associates,” says Wyman.

The firms will also share profits in developing the network.

“There will be concrete obligations to work together in areas such as pooling knowledge and working together on marketing, training and a variety of internal matters,” says Wyman.

Wyman says the network has been “punching below its weight” because the firms lack a single brand linking them with PwC.

“The name we select will be owned centrally and will be licensed to the network firms, so that if any firm were to leave the family they couldn't take the name with them,” he adds.

The name has not been decided yet, but in a swipe at KLegal, the new legal arm of arch-rival accountancy firm KPMG which was launched by six former Arnheim Tite partners, Wyman adds: “We are not going to go for anything like PLegal.

“I think we will go for something rather more traditional than that.”

PwC says that it hopes to have the new structure in place and the new name decided on by the end of the year.