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Ernst & Young made its plunge into the practice of law. The Big Five accounting firm announced that it has launched an “alliance” with a new D.C. law firm. That law firm, which will be called McKee Nelson Ernst & Young, is expected to have a dozen or so attorneys within the next few weeks, and Ernst & Young says it may house as many as 50 attorneys in a year’s time. Although the law firm will operate separately from Ernst & Young and will not share profits with the accountants, this is still the closest that an American CPA firm has ever come to practicing law. The announcement is creating a stir in the accounting world. Says one well-placed professional who works for an Ernst & Young competitor: “The news here is that they are trying to do something much broader than tax. Now the potential for large captive law firms owned by accounting firms is there. The question is, where does it stop?”

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