PwC acquires Canadian immigration firm

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has acquired Toronto-based immigration law firm Bomza Law Group.

The 37-strong firm will be known as PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law and run as an affiliation with PwC’s accountancy business.

The firm deals with US immigration law in Canada and is led by founder and managing partner Janet Bomza, alongside two senior immigration lawyers Mark Dey and Melodie Hughes, and a further nine fee-earners.

Bomza said: “This affiliation will strengthen our global reach and assist businesses with complex immigration requirements.”

PwC has around 1000 immigration lawyers based in 126 countries, the greatest concentration of which are in Africa where the firm’s legal market leader and head of global immigration Julia Onslow-Cole said the firm was actively seeking to close up gaps.

Onslow-Cole said: “We’re making a very big investment in the immigration network, this is the first of a series of expansions.”

Commenting on the range of opportunities that PwC sees for itself in the legal services market, Onslow-Cole also said that the firm saw potential for PwC to do more in corporate and M&A work, as well as building on what it calls entity governance and compliance (EGC) – which is essentially company secretarial support.

“I think our natural competitiors are not necessarily the law firms, there are numerous specialised firms that do EGC. Law firms do it as an adjunct to corporate but not many law firms do it at volume,” Onslow-Cole continued.

She said the big-four accountancy firms are currently reviewing all legal markets and that, separately from the ABS licence it was recently granted in the UK, PwC is looking to leverage off its international network.

PwC Legal gained an ABS licence in January, a move that allowed the accountant to take ownership of the business (31 January 2014).

Last month Ernst & Young acquired Shanghai firm Chen & Co (20 February 2014), having hired a former HSF Singapore partner in December to prep the market (10 December 2013).

In early 2013, Deloitte opened its own law firm in Shanghai by hiring a team of lawyers from several Shanghai firms, including local tax partner Clare Lu from Llinks. Branded as Qin Li, the firm is a licensed Chinese law firm and introduces itself as part of Deloitte’s global network on its website. The legal services unit is overseen by Vivian Jiang, Deloitte’s greater China managing partner for tax, business and legal services.

For more on the rise of potential for resource-rich accountancy firms in the legal sector see: Accountants aren’t kidding with ABS this time