KPMG is launching its long-awaited UK law firm, KLegal, as a virtual multidisciplinary partnership (MDP).
The firm will be based at KPMG's Salisbury Square headquarters, but will have a separate entrance to comply with current Law Society regulations, says KPMG's UK head of tax and legal Ian Barlow.
KLegal will be integrated into the wider firm in anticipation of the Law Society's expected approval of MDPs. "We're going to set the firm up so that it can go straight into being an MDP," says Barlow.
"We want to look at developing products and service offerings that include legal as integral. We do not want to have a stand-alone firm."
KPMG has poached the founding partners from Arnheim Tite & Lewis - the associate law firm of rival big five accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). KLegal will be established as soon as it has "negotiated an orderly withdrawal", possibly as soon as this month, says Barlow.
KLegal will be "aggressively building the practice", he says. As well as recruiting assistants and partners from rivals, the firm will be recruiting from universities, starting in earnest next year.
"We certainly look to be a ranked firm within three years or so and we'd like to build it more quickly than PwC have so far," Barlow adds.
The announcement of KLegal scotches rumours that KPMG is seeking a merger with a Midlands law firm. "We are not in discussions with anyone at the moment and a merger is not on the cards," says Barlow.
But a top lawyer at a City firm expresses surprise that KPMG has decided to launch its own firm after trying for so long to attract a merger partner to compete with the legal arms of PwC and Arthur Andersen.
"It's almost a fallback option to be doing a start-up. They are really starting two or three years behind the game." he says.