Big Four bean counter flexes its muscles: Deloitte announces expansion into UK legal market

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Training contract offering ‘under review’

Global accountancy firm Deloitte is the latest of the Big Four (alongside PwC, EY and KPMG) to push further into the UK legal market.

Deloitte announced today that it is expanding what it calls its “managed services”, offering automated document review and document management, and its “consulting services”, which means advising in-house legal teams on how to operate more efficiently and engage more with technology.

Deloitte will also apply for what is known as an Alternative Business Structure (ABS) licence. This licence has already been secured by PwC, EY and KPMG and will allow Deloitte to offer traditional legal services without having to operate as a traditional law firm (and without having to be run by lawyers).

The expansion is most likely to challenge those law firms which currently do considerable bread-and-butter work for the in-house teams of large corporates.

The Legal Cheek 2018 Firms Most List

For those considering training contract options, Deloitte has yet to commit to whether or not it will be offering them, saying that the matter was “under review” pending the appointment of the firm’s head of legal.

According to Legal Cheek’s Firms Most List 2018, PwC currently offers 25 training contracts per year: its legal arm is worth around £60 million which equates it to a top 50-100 law firm. Meanwhile, EY offers a training contract where you don’t need a 2:1 to apply — though you will, for sure, need to be good with numbers. KPMG announced back in 2015 (about the same time as EY) that it would be offering training contracts but has remained shy about the exact number.

This latest move by Deloitte is part of a broader trend of the Big Four to exploit the deregulation of legal services which started with the Legal Services Act 2007. The predictions are that these accountancy firms will disrupt top law firms’ market power as clients continue to demand cheaper legal services.

For its part, however, Deloitte is keen to stress that it will not be “replicating a traditional law firm”. Matt Ellis, managing partner for tax and legal at Deloitte, said:

“We’re planning to use our technology and advisory skills to transform legal services and help address many of the challenges lawyers, whether in practice or in-house, are facing in today’s increasingly complex legal environment. By automating repetitive processes and completing routine tasks in a fraction of the time, lawyers will be able to spend more time on specialist areas.”

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“Global accountancy firm Deloitte is the latest of the Big Four (alongside PwC, EY and KPMG) to push further into the UK legal market.”

“Latest” suggests that there are more members of the Big Four to come



Surely it should just be changed to the “last” big four…

Always trust Deloitte to be the most risk adverse for a new product.



The threat of Big 4 accountancy firms to law firms is hugely overblown. They are bloated, bureaucratic institutions that have got far too big and operate with public sector levels of efficiency.



I erroneously hit Report instead of Reply in a moment of distraction. Sorry bud..

Would tend to totally agree with that



Due diligence.
Board of Directors had PWC look into it
Board of Directors had a law firm, Smith & Smith, that most never heard of, look into it.

Their brand is bigger than any law firm’s.
If you don’t see them as a threat, you’re making a serious miscalculation.



Is anyone surprised?



The Big Four already has to sail extremely close to the wind on conflicts of interest rules, as they’re so damn big they keep bumping into other work that they’re doing. Branching out into law, where the rules are tighter and where they’re going to bump into themselves on all kinds of deals means that they’re going to have to pass up an awful lot of work.

I don’t see how it’s going to work apart from on very limited deal support roles.



The comments on articles about the big 4 often make the same mistake. The big 4 are not trying to become law firms. They are trying to do legal work.

The difference is important, PwC operates on a model of providing complementary services. For example the tax lawyers offer advice alongside the tax consultancy and tax disputes teams that already exist within PwC.

Naturally because the big 4 work for so many organisations there are bound to be conflicts, but this rarely applies to advisory areas of law or for work against a regulator.

The “one stop shop” solution can be quite attractive to clients who dont need to project manage all their advisers.

The big 4 are not coming after the massive deals or the huge litigation, but they are coming after the large implementation projects, the advisory work and the regulatory environment.



Totally agree, they will just provide those complimentary services – there is unlikely to be any further issues with conflicts for doing these services.

Also, this is about more credibility in selling services which compete with legal firm’s offerings (e-discovery review etc…) . The big 4 do this already, it will just be “enhancing” the offering by badging it as a legal service.




Are you and/or your law firm doing any of the paid services that accountants do?
No, unless you are part of the few with dual qualifications.
Are/Will the Big Four and their safe brand doing many(if not most) of the work of stand alone legal firms.

Not only are they going to eat their own pie, they are getting a huge slice of yours, but they don’t get the whole of your pie, so you’re going to be okay.

Jesus H Dawkins wept.


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