Deloitte has become the final member of the Big Four to receive an alternative business structure (ABS) licence, as the accountancy giant follows its rivals in pushing into the legal services market.
The U.K.’s Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has confirmed that Deloitte was granted a license to provide legal services on May 30, with the license going into effect June 15.
The accountancy firm has been licensed for rights of audience, conduct of litigation, reserved instrument activities, probate activities and administration of oaths. Deloitte may continue to carry out exempt regulated activities, provided that the activities are “complementary to the firm’s reserved legal activities or other legal activities.”
The SRA also stated that a term of the license is that a Deloitte solicitor may not act for a client where there is a conflict of interest with the firm’s existing work unless the client has given informed consent and safeguards can be put in place.
Deloitte partner Anbreen Khan is listed as head of legal practice on the SRA register. Her Deloitte bio notes the London-based partner is head of the litigation, advisory and settlement team, with a specialization in indirect taxes.
Deloitte is the last of the Big Four accountancy firms to make the ABS move after PwC, KPMG and EY were all awarded licenses in 2014. PwC has ABS licenses for both its legal arm, PwC Legal and its Middle East operations.
ABS licenses, first introduced in 2012 under the Legal Services Act, allow companies to run their own legal arms while also making it possible for law firms to accept external investment and be owned by nonlawyers.
In January, Deloitte UK managing partner for tax and legal Matt Ellis told Legal Week that the firm was on the lookout for senior lawyers to lead its drive into the UK legal market.
Deloitte currently has the smallest legal offering within the Big Four. Research from ALM Intelligence found the firm had 1,800 lawyers, while the other three all have more than 2,000. PwC has the largest legal arm of the Big Four with 2,500, followed by KPMG with 2,200 and EY on 2,100.
Twelve percent of its lawyers are in the Americas, although it does not have a U.S. legal business. The U.S. legal market has restrictions on nonlawyer ownership of law firms, making it a difficult legal market to crack for the big four.
Deloitte’s UK arm recently sealed an alliance with U.S. immigration firm Berry Appleman & Leiden, a deal that will see it acquire the law firm’s operations outside of its home country.
The alliance, which gives BAL access to Deloitte’s scale and expertise outside of the United States, has seen Deloitte UK acquire the law firm’s business outside of the UK, which includes small offices in eight countries including a UK base in London.