The Big Four accounting firms are increasingly interested in hiring legal talent, both internationally and in targeted areas in the U.S. But that hasn’t stopped a steady stream of attorneys from moving in the opposite direction.
Baker & Hostetler this week became the latest Big Law firm to announce a reverse move, hiring a former sector leader for banking and capital markets clients from EY’s tax practice. While the accounting giants may be holding off on providing a full suite of legal services in the U.S. because of perceived regulatory barriers, their tax practices are stocked with attorneys. And they are not adverse to returning to law firms, as these latest moves show.
Roger Brown, who is joining Baker & Hostetler’s Washington, D.C., office as a partner in its international tax practice, spent a decade with EY. His work there on behalf of U.S. and international businesses mirrors what a transactional attorney at a traditional law firm might boast: multibillion-dollar restructurings, raising capital for global technology and blockchain companies, conducting due diligence for foreign targets, and structuring tax-efficient financing.
“We’re thrilled to bring Roger’s broad experience both in government and private practice to our tax team in Washington,” said Jeffrey Paravano, managing partner of Baker & Hostetler’s D.C., office, in a statement. “Roger’s insights into both the complexities of international and financial services tax issues and into how the IRS views issues in this space will be incredibly valuable to our clients.”
Brown spent nearly eight years at the IRS, rising to special counsel to the associate chief counsel of the agency. Upon departing in 2002, he spent three years at Deloitte, before becoming a partner at Burt Staples & Maner. He left the law firm, which focused on international tax work, for EY in 2008. Seven years later, the rest of BSM joined EY.
His move follows that of former PwC tax adviser Mike Lebovitz, who moved to Mayer Brown this month after two years with the Big Four firm, pointing to barriers in servicing clients who also used PwC as an auditor.
Kirkland & Ellis has also recognized the appeal of Big Four talent, hiring two former KPMG tax lawyers for its recently launched Dallas office.
Overseas, the accounting firms aren’t subject to the same limitations that they face in the U.S., but there’s movement back to law firms there, too. EY, in particular, has seen a string of departures internationally, with talent going to U.K. firms Simmons & Simmons, Gowling WLG, and Scotland-based Brodies along with Australia’s Gadens in recent months.