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Big Four giant EY buys NewLaw firm Riverview and pledges to ‘disrupt’ legal market

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Watch out, traditional law firms

Image credit: Instagram (@merveeroglu_)

Big Four accountancy titan EY has taken a large leap on to lawyer turf today with the purchase of legal innovation outfit Riverview Law.

EY said the acquisition underlines its position “as a leading disruptor of legal services” and will “help clients to increase efficiency, manage risk, improve service transparency and reduce costs of routine legal activities.” The deal, confirmed this morning, is expected to complete in the coming weeks and will see Riverview Law revert to the name EY Riverview Law.

Wirral-based Riverview Law launched in 2012 and is perhaps best known for the design and development of Kim, an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that can, according to its creators, “provide business users with an easy-to-use gateway to legal support.” The business has also worked closely with boffins at the University of Liverpool in a bid to apply disruptive AI tech to legal tasks normally reserved for paralegals. Legal Cheek understands that the business’ virtual assistant platform is owned by a separate entity, Kim Technologies, and is not part of the EY deal.

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Kate Barton, EY’s global vice chair for tax, said: “When it comes to legal managed services, clients need access to best in cost and best in class law functions that offer the specialist tools and technologies to keep pace with the disruptive change they are facing. The acquisition of Riverview Law expands EY Law Services so that we can continue to provide these innovative approaches that can help meet EY clients’ biggest challenges.”

Karl Chapman, CEO of Riverview Law, added:

“The legal profession is going through a period of significant global upheaval. Changes in regulation, technology and most importantly customer expectation create an opportunity for a more flexible and customer-centric approach to the provision of legal services. Becoming part of EY is a real strategic fit for our team and is in line with our commitment to deliver world-class service and counsel to Riverview Law clients who are at the core of everything we do.”

The Big Four bean counter has been snapping at the heels of traditional law firms for a number of years now.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) fired the starting pistol on EY’s foray into the legal service market in 2014 after granting it Alternative Business Structure (ABS) status. A year later, the accountancy giant launched a training contract scheme with no minimum educational requirements. As part of a global network, EY now has over 2,100 lawyers across 82 countries.

As for the rest of the Big Four, PwC‘s legal operation bagged ABS approval as the start of 2014, and now offers 25 training contracts annually, while KPMG received the green light from the regulator several months later. Deloitte was awarded its ABS licence earlier this year.

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35 Comments

Kirkland & Swolis

ROFL, I’m quaking already

(9)(0)

Anonymous

Hahahahahhahahahhahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahshahshahsshhshahahaha

Just because a big company buys a relative start-up it’s not a game changer or going to lead to a massive innovation within the industry.

They have essentially bought some software and a case management system that pre populates documents a bit faster than others or alternatively a low ranking non-qualified had to complete.

(21)(0)

Anonymous

No they haven’t.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

2:05am – you can’t sleep bro? Tiredness affecting your thoughts?

(0)(0)

K&E

Time for all law firms to shut up shop I guess if titans like Riverview Law are getting taken over

(23)(0)

Anonymous

Excellent summary, Aristotle.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Same person who commented above at 2:05am.

Green isn’t your colour.

(1)(1)

David

I cringe at all these goofy lawyers turning up their noses at this news. EY are taking giant leaps, even though this may not appear much right now. Whilst I am quite wise, let’s go back to the basis here. Rome was not built in a day. What was it built on? Solid foundations. What does EY have? Solid foundations. Those foundations are now being built on in such a way that will allow them to tackle, and eventually take down the traditional legal market. EY are innovators, unlike lawyers, which will allow them to rise to greater heights. The switched-on lawyers who open their eyes to that reality early on will be rewarded.

(12)(11)

Anonymous

The same way Co-Op’s solid foundations has led to their legal services bossing the market….

SMH

(17)(2)

Anonymous

You sound like an auditor. Your simple job will be the first to be taken over by AI.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I’m actually a media lawyer.

(0)(1)

Colonel Sanders

The next thing you know PWC will be buying Just Costs and pledging to take over the legal world as we know it.

Nah mate.

(10)(1)

legal authority on everything

Thomas, mate, you do realise that most firms are developing legaltech that automates precisely this kind of slow, boring, paralegal-only process? EY aren’t special for jumping on board.

Also lol at the fact that the EY memo literally refers to ‘routine legal activities’. You know, the sort that decent City firms try not to do wherever possible.

Before anyone reminds me that there may be shit tier shops etc. that may be harmed by a monster like EY clawing its way into garbage tier legal services, I don’t care. You should have studied at a better university, built a better CV, and aimed higher.

(8)(9)

Anonymous

You were on point until you went full dickhead on the last paragraph.

(29)(1)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(3)(3)

Anonymous

Oh dear hobo. Be careful that you don’t drive yourself around the twist. Your post is showing signs of mental strain as time passes x

(4)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

So will E&Y be doing fixed fee £350 defendant PAD applications now? Because that is the type of stuff handled with the software they are buying.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

No it isn’t.

(0)(0)

SC Partner

…and there goes any possibility of my recommending EY to a client for any form of advice on my deals.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

This is exactly the sort of work you keep quiet. Why EY are keen to shout about essentially collaborating with this subpar legal provider is beyond me.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

I bet they’re gutted.

(0)(0)

RiverView Law's legal tech is not unique

EY? … Birkenhead? Glam, global accountancy firm no more.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Yes, Birkenhead is the only town on the Wirral peninsula. Get a map you prick.

(1)(0)

Ernst & Very Young

You can only justify using the term disrupt if you’re doing something new. The likes of Eversheds and AG have been doing this for yonks.

Better luck at disrupting a sector you are very much an outsider to, EY.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Eversheds tech came after Riverview.

(0)(0)

Latham, Skadden, Kirkland, Cleary, Davis Polk (and 7 more)

Lol

(8)(0)

Oppidan

Don’t understand why any lawyer would be worried by technological advances if they are a good lawyer.

Surely its only law graduates with a mangy 2:1 in an arts subject who have limited learning abilities and who are fundamentally lazy who fear change.

No-one in a magic circle firm or top chambers fears progress. We embrace it.

The rate of change is exponential. get with the program or get orf the bus

(2)(13)

Plimpy

Be careful of making fun of such disruption, have you ever thought you can eat a vindaloo and then those stomach rumbles go too far.

This is clearly EY’s business model.

Beware EY – DWF will be after you.

‘Oooooooooo’

(3)(1)

Just a Barristers Clerk

Yet again, a lot of lawyers are missing the point. You’re too busy thinking like lawyers and not thinking like a business.

Think about it – Lawyer side, they’re developing tech that will cut prices and mitigate the laborious task. Less reasons to hire expensive paralegals

Client side – cheaper quotes, more clients

(6)(2)

Anonymous

When push comes to shove the economic performance indicators which pension funds and private equity invest in are more important than people.

Work streams suitable for AI will be identified because these funds require growth. The redundancies of people will not matter.

There is an interesting snippet of comrade Jordan Peterson on YouTube. He expresses horror at the following scenario , because he is a clinical psychologist, bless him. To more ruthless people than himself, Jordan gives an investment tip….

He says that Ai is focussed on driverless vehicles at the moment. Driving is one of the biggest employers of men in the US. If they get made redundant, they will get depressed. With that depression will come physical pain, in time, such is the pattern. Particular opiates will be described for the pain, which he names. Dependency will build and those men may never recover.

After predicting this, he implores to his class of undergraduates Think about it ! Is that what you want !

Bless Jordan. He is good but he has followed the works of Carl Jung. And Carl Jung never troubled a single financier in his while life with his palliatives and his theory about archetypes.

Invest in the companies which supply prescription opiates and Ai , is the message.

I predict that English Councils will be groomed to restructure for AI when their 6 billion budget cut comes in in 2020. It is no accident that EY are a shoe in there for restructuring consultancy work.

(2)(4)

Anonymous

Are you ok?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Accountancy firms expand into non-core areas and then shed those business lines in a cyclical fashion. The changes to legal regulation allowing ABS mean that this is the first time that legal services have been one of those non-core areas.

Accenture (previously Andersen Consulting) is a good example of why these things aren’t sustainable in the long run. The different service lines have very different levels of profitability and if the more profitable service line doesn’t need the others to generate business then it rapidly starts to resent having to pay in more than it gets out.

At the moment, audit is a great generator of business for the Big Four non-core business lines, as well as being a mechanism for identifying and recruiting talent (lots of people start off in boring audit at the Big Four with the intention of transferring into a more interesting area). I just can’t see the synergies with law which would make keeping it within the family worthwhile (for either side).

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I question whether Riverview actually made any money.

Its accounts over the past 5 years would suggest not.

What ‘new law’ is finding out – is that it is really difficult to make money by attempting to commoditise or provide lower cost ‘managed’ legal services.

EY is buying its operation – no doubt – to provide loss leading legal operations, like all Big 4 do with corporate immigration, and mark up other service lines to cover.

(1)(0)

Comments are closed.

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