Money men not to be under-estimated

City lawyers should not reassure themselves that MDPs will not happen because clients do not want one-stop shopping.

If Wilde Sapte does submit to the huge arms of Arthur Andersen it will not be to follow the wishes of clients.

The motives will be based around Wilde Sapte's need for more capital and Andersens desire for more lucrative sources of revenue.

No client asked the Big Six to form themselves. Clients were presented with a fait accompli.

Likewise with legal services, clients have not asked for, but will be presented with a legal aisle in the global professional service supermarket and many will find it convenient.

Corporate legal advice is not a commodity, lawyers spit. Not yet. But the Big Six have a habit of commoditising all their services. Audit work was once not a commodity either.

Even if Wilde Sapte does merge, the accountants still do not have City legal players, some will argue.

But in the fields of asset finance bank advice, Wilde Sapte is a player. And Andersens will want to move into other legal fields.

It failed to get Simmons & Simmons, but word reaches us that after the failure of the Simmons talks, Andersens had lunch with Freshfields.

At present this sort of wining and dining is unlikely to lead to serious merger discussions.

Lawyers regard themselves as intellectually a tad above their bean-counting friends and the prospect of being swallowed up by them is not an appealing prospect for many.

And the top tier firms have invested far too much in their brand names to want to see them diluted by the accountants, at least for the time being.

But when a law firm gets into trouble, the accountants will be there, waiting.