PwC Legal chief: we can be a top 20 global legal services business in five years

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  • we've heard it all before.

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  • Perhaps if they could attract legal staff and not just hundreds of immigration paralegals it could happen. It won't happen until they stop acting like pseudo-accountants

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  • The accontancy and professional services firms have always been light years head of the legal profession on EVERY level, almost to the point of embarassement. The Legal Services Act, and its effects WILL have a huge effect on the uper mid tier and silver circle firms, in that the big four will march all over , their historical stomping ground. The big 4 have successfully added on M&A advice and execution, tax advice, and been hugley successful in the Consulting space. Now watch how in quick order they decimate the mid-tier space, and silver circle firms. In time they will make real inroads into the "weaker" and old fshioned MC firms, now you have been told, the accountants are COMING"

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  • Hopefully the coming accontants (Mark @ 12.59pm) have a hugley better grasp of spelling and basic grammar to avoid their own embarassement

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  • I really struggle to understand any complacency at the prospect of PwC making a serious effort in the legal services market (it has only dabbled thus far, more of a hobby or sideline). The only firms not immediately threatened by this are high street firms and highly focused top end practices like Slaughter & May and Macfarlanes. Everyone in between is in the cross hairs.

    PwC is not just a US$30 billion turnover organisation, it already has a ready made global network of hundreds of offices, it has global brand which is far better known than any law firm, it has a client list which massively surpasses any law firm in size and scope and depth. It has immense internal resources in IT, consulting, process management etc.

    DLA was able to build a US$2.5 billion turnover firm in a few years with none of these advantages.

    If PwC wants it can easily be the largest law firm in the world. The only bar to this is a lack of desire, regulatory bars or competition from the rest of the big four.

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  • Mark @ 12:59pm - I highly doubt the uper and even the upper mid-tier firms are quaking in their boots at this news. The silver circle doesn't care. The only matter that might have people in the legal services world feeling slightly concerned is that the Big 4(four) accontants are adding execution to their roster of services...

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  • Hopefully the would be arm-chair commentators (Kelsey Grammar @ 1:50 pm) will correct their own spelling before drawing attention to the spelling mistakes of others. "hugley", "accontants", "embarassement"? No fullstop? But maybe you are just trying to make a point; somehow, I think not.

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  • PWCL took half the property department of the London office of a mid tier national law firm. There now appears to be one partner left.

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  • Too many conflicts

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  • Lawyers have become complacent having had it all their own way forever. This has changed already and will change more over the next few years. If you do not change and adapt to modern times the chances of success will reduce dramatically.
    However, for those that do the opportunities are huge.

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  • The spelling issue seesm to have taken over. Fairly obvious that Kelsey Grammar and Real Estate Babe are being ironic given the exact replica spelling mistakes. More importantly, it will be a while before the serious law firms consider the Big 4 a threat but those at the commoditised end of commercial or employment work are right to be worried.

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  • Yes PwC could easily accomplish its goal of becoming a "top 20 global legal services business in 5 years". And the Queen of England could personally serve coffee at a stand in front of Starbucks Westminster on Broadway, and if compromised her integrity to do that it would likely decimate Starbucks' business. London bobbies could even sell protection services on the side, guaranteeing more patrols in exchange for a little cash to supplement officer income. Certainly the Big Four, each of whom is placed in the unique position of trust that auditors of public companies are, may want to expand their professional services franchises into more lucrative professional services areas where competence in that area may not be the primary motivation for engagement. The real question is, how long will it take regulators to smarten up and patch that hole in the conflict dike?

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  • If it were Bond Dickinson saying this then I'd back them.

    However it's not realistic when it's an accountancy firm. Conflicts get in the way. There are big differences in the business models.

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  • It now appears to be a three way race between law firms, accountancy firms and the likes of Axiom and Cador. My money is on Axiom and Cador (and the others that operate similar models).

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  • Breathtaking complacency not to see this as a major threat to traditional law firms. Clients increasingly no longer care who gives them 'legal' advice. A one stop shop that sells analytics and data as well as legal advice is going to look very attractive compared to the law firms, who, at the end of the day, really only sell words.

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  • Others have tried and failed - which begs the question how will this be different. the issue of conflict of interest is likely to put a major dampener on this as however you dress it up this just adds more conflicts to a market already crowded with professional service providers (with common shareholding/ownership) selling related services; auditing, consulting, M&A advice etc. Add legal services into this already conflicted mix and someone is going to put their regulatory or PI oar in sooner or later. We are already working with firms who are having difficulty getting PCs for staff who work across multiple disciplines on the same matter.

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  • They already pretend to be lawyers down here in Ozlandia under the guise of providing 'procurement' and 'probity' advice. To be fair it's not the accounts, but ex-engineers and commerce grads playing management consultant. Not glamerous, but pays well when you are dealing with government clients. Watch out you mob...it'll be death by a thousand powerpoint slides.

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  • Well they can kiss goodbye to the forensic and insolvency work I have been sending to them. You've bitten the hand that feeds you and now you are dead to me.

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  • Didn't the Big 4 try this before with limited (if any) success around the turn of the century?

    What springs to my mind in the UK are Andersen/Garretts/Dundas, KPMG/KLegal/Mcgrigors and PwC/Arnhem, Tite & Lewis. I don't know about EY and I don't know about jurisdictions outside the UK. What I do know is that none of the tie-ups I mention seem to have worked but I'm happy to be corrected.

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  • The conflict issue is getting ever less relevant. Legal services are becoming just another service and provision is going to become ever more automated.

    Companies like Google, IBM, BT, banks etc already hold vast amounts of highly sensitive information about all manner of companies which compete with each. It is just information at the end of the day and organisations have a commercial interests in keeping their clients information confidential and providing the best possible service to every customer.

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  • I was at both Landwell and T&L. Yes, conflicts are a major issue with Sarbox and this is a major constraint whilst the law firm is run as a separate business line. But once the accountants and consultants lose their fear of "giving legal advice" as part of their core service they will be able to generate comprehensive solutions and everyone will wonder why they ever had to reconcile disparate advice from lawyers, tax advisors and other consultants for the same deliverable. Procurement is a case in point - all the client wants is rigorous selection process and a well negotiated and documented deal.

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  • I really can't wait to see the faces and comments of these posters and others in the legal profession, when they see that the "Big" 4" have cleaned up. Lawyers you need to get smart soon, or else.. I am a Lawyer

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  • I think it will be a completely 'closed shop' without even the goods for sale on display as the ABS licence allows the so called big four Accountancy firms to take on Legal services. Probate and the Administration of Estates for wealthy (very) inidividuals will be a complete doddle when the initial stage of Tax advice has already pre-empted and anticipated the ultimate demise... but I really don't think it will be what it would (or should) be....but who will know that with a closed shop...

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