Look out – the accountants are coming

Just when you thought you’d caught up with all the changes afoot in the legal sector, the Big Four accountants go and chuck a curveball.

The re-emergence of Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC as players in UK legal services may not be a huge surprise in this ABS-obsessed world. But that they’re going at it with such gusto is – especially now that Deloitte appears keen to join the party.

Anyone old enough to recall the accountants’ first foray into the UK legal market may be hard pushed to care much about their second coming. But considering that the legal arm of PwC, the only one of the big accountants not to quit legal in the wake of the Enron scandal, was turning over £38.8m before converting to an ABS, perhaps they should. EY and KPMG are keen to follow suit, and have been building up their legal capabilities across the UK in anticipation of also going down the ABS route.

If the accountants start off on the acquisition trail you might just sit up and take a bit more notice. With enviable profits and huge office networks the Big Four have the wherewithal to cherry pick firms and cross-sell between their considerable business interests. Deloitte Legal is keeping its cards close to its chest for now, but with a new chief keen to exploit the UK legal market that could be exactly what he has planned.

Are you quaking yet?

Meanwhile, if you’re an in-house lawyer, don’t miss your chance to have your say on the new model service you’re getting from your external lawyers.

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