Big Four accountant Deloitte is on the lookout for senior lawyers to lead its new drive into the U.K. legal market.
The professional services giant is getting ready to apply for an alternative business structure (ABS) license in the U.K., becoming the last of the Big Four to do so.
It is planning to launch the venture in the early part of this year and is looking for private practice partners to lead its drive.
The firm plans to offer managed legal services such as automated document review and a technology-focused in-house consulting service, as well as employment law, tax litigation and immigration advice.
“We are now very actively looking for significant legal players who can help develop and build this opportunity,” Matt Ellis, managing partner for tax and legal at Deloitte UK, told ALM’s London-based publication Legal Week. “We will be hiring a senior partner as head of legal for Deloitte and a partner who will lead innovation and new services, and also looking at resources to support them.”
Ellis said Deloitte does not want to replicate a traditional law firm in the U.K., but it noted that the legal market was offering an opportunity in areas that touch on Deloitte’s core skills—digital, risk advisory, developing or managing projects for clients. “We spent a year evaluating that, talking to GCs, and we decided we are uniquely placed to bring that combination of skills to make a move into this market,” he said.
In addition to entering the U.K. legal market, Deloitte is also launching a global legal management consulting (LMC) business, which will consist of more than 100 professionals in 10 countries.
“Deloitte Global’s LMC offering will use our consultancy and technology skills alongside our legal expertise to address the challenges that face in-house legal teams,” said global managing director of Deloitte Legal, Piet Hein. “Our 2016 survey of in-house legal departments has shown that 62 percent of legal counsel, general counsel, CEOs and CFOs are looking to significantly review and transform the way in which their legal function operates—which is exactly what we’re looking to address with LMC.”
Deloitte’s move comes roughly four years after its closest rivals—KPMG, EY and PwC—all secured their ABS licenses in the U.K.
As such, it has the smallest legal offering of the Big Four. Recent research from ALM’s intelligence arm 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 with 2,100.
Deloitte’s legal business is worth $250 million globally. Half of its offices are in Europe, where tax advice is provided by lawyers, which accounts for 79 percent of its lawyers. Half of its lawyers globally are located in four key markets: France, Spain, Belgium and Germany.
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.