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Exactly one week into his new role as PwC’s head of legal, Ed Stacey is explaining what it was like when the big four accountant’s legal arm integrated into the wider firm last year, having previously been strictly segregated for regulatory reasons.

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James Booth

James joined Legal Week in June 2015. He reports on leading UK law firms, as well as covering the African legal market. He previously worked for legal directory Chambers & Partners as a deputy editor.

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    /uploads/sites/378/2016/09/pwc-logo-web-Article-201609130532.jpg" alt="" width="616" height="372" /> One week on from his appointment as PwC���s head of legal, Ed Stacey is explaining how the big four accountant���s legal arm has integrated into the wider firm, having previously been strictly segregated for regulatory reasons. ���We were a ring-fenced separate partnership and whilst we sat mostly in this building [in central London] we actually had glass barriers around us, literally glass barriers, and you had to swipe to come in and out of the doors,��� he says. In October the firm converted to a multi-disciplinary practice (MDP) which means that the more than 350 lawyers that formed PwC Legal are now spread throughout PwC���s wider network. ���When we got to October, the Berlin Wall came down,��� he jokes. The change has had a significant effect on the way that the firm���s lawyers are organised and work on a day-to-day basis. PwC Legal was organised as a single business unit, now its lawyers have been dispersed to the PwC business units that most reflect their area of practice. For example its employment lawyers have joined PwC���s people and organisations group, which consists of HR consultants and reward consultants while the firm���s pensions team is now sitting alongside PwC���s wider pensions group. ���It has made things a lot easier to work on joint projects if you are sat with people doing the work and as a result over the last we have started to see some really impressive growth in some of our teams that have managed to imbed quickly,��� Stacey says. ���We have got a corporate restructuring business which now works alongside the tax specialist who are looking at company reorganisations they are able to do the legal work alongside that and they have seen pretty phenomenal growth over the last year as a result of that integration,��� he adds. PwC Legal no longer exists as a cost centre within the firm and instead the legal team are organised as a network within PwC. ���It is more of a matrix structure, my internal title here is the legal network leader, so we operate as a network in the same way we might have other skills areas that do that,��� Stacey says. However, the legal network is the platform where new product liens are developed, including areas such as a managed legal services (MLS) offering and flexible lawyering business. PwC has a consulting business called legal function effectiveness (LFE) which is the legal equivalent of what PwC does in areas such as HR and IT where teams go in and examine the effectiveness of a function and make recommendations of how to do things more effectively. PwC is now providing an MLS offering which its consultants can recommend to clients to help improve the efficiency of their legal teams. ���In some cases we may take on parts of their legal function, it is TUPE transferred across to us,��� Stacey says. Or it can involve assisting clients with technology where the in-house team isn���t large enough to invest in technology platforms that could make the work they do more efficient. PwC recruited partners Andrew Giverin and Jason McQuillen this April from new law outfit Radiant Law to help drive their business in this area. Stacey says: ���We see this as one of our highest growth areas for the next two-year period.��� The firm has also launched a flexible lawyering business, called Flexible Legal Resources, which aims to provide contract lawyers for in-house departments. The particular focus is on providing large groups of lawyers to clients for specific projects. Stacey explains: ���This is much more around offering a bulk team of lawyers who may be able to come in and deal with a particular project under a client���s supervision such as the remediation projects that have been such a feature in the financial services sector.��� PwC has also been making increasing use of its regional offices, particularly Belfast, to keep costs down for clients. Stacey sites this as one of the reasons PwC won a role on the UK government���s ��400m legal panel as part of a consortium which also includes Howes Percival, Holman Fenwick Willan and Sharpe Pritchard. In Belfast PwC has grown its staff numbers to 30, and is still recruiting, both for staff for its MLS practice and for lawyers to support its wider business. Stacey anticipates a hiring slowdown in London with Belfast instead taking up the strains, but insists that there are no plans for London job cuts. ���It may be that we won���t recruit as fast in London as we have in the past few years and we will recruit more in places like Belfast, Leeds and Manchester,��� Stacey says. The firm has also expanded internationally this year, launching an office in Washington DC, which will not offer US law advice, but have more of a focus on marketing the wider firm to US clients. ���Many US companies don���t know PwC does law, while we have now got just over 3,200 lawyers worldwide,��� he says. He describes the launch as ���a small logistical step but a big step from an optical perspective���. Stacey, who took over from long serving PwC legal head Shirley Brooks this month, says that his goals in his new job are centred around the firm���s people and its clients. ���I need to ensure that we continue to grow and that we continue to deliver a really positive experience for our people and our clients,��� he says. Meeting him within seven days of his appointment, he says that he has been surprised by the number of approaches he has had from people in the market looking for an opportunity at the firm. ���The number of people contacting me directly around opportunities has surprised me, other lawyers, and particularly junior lawyers, know that we do things a bit differently here and see that as an opportunity.��� He explains that junior lawyers at the firm are rarely given annual billable hour targets exceeding 1000 hours. ���We expect our people to become more involved in the business of their clients and spend more time with their clients, not necessarily just sat in an office throwing down chargeable hours,��� he says. <


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