‘Not another mid-market law firm’: Deloitte to make much-anticipated foray into UK legal market

‘Not another mid-market law firm’: Deloitte to make much-anticipated foray into UK legal market

Often trumpeted as a potential disruptor to the UK legal market, the last of the Big Four accountancy firms, Deloitte, is primed to enter the fray as an alternative business structure (ABS).

The global professional services giant confirmed yesterday (10 January) that it would be using technology such as automated document review and contract management to underpin the new legal offering. In addition, Deloitte will be launching a consulting service to help in-house legal teams get the best out of technology.

Deloitte will therefore apply for an ABS licence, with the firm intending to begin offering new legal services ‘early this year’.

Deloitte will enter the market well behind its three rivals, with PwC, KPMG and EY all possessing an established legal presence in the UK. PwC has by far the strongest legal offering, with a UK headcount of 320 and UK revenues of £60m. EY has around 85 UK lawyers while KPMG has approximately 100, with UK revenues of roughly £15m and £20m respectively.

Piet Hein Meeter, global managing director of Deloitte Legal, told Legal Business: ‘We have always monitored the legal market in the UK, and we already have a presence in around 80 countries. But we wanted to avoid bringing another mid-market law firm to the table. We have now developed something where we have positioned ourselves in-between the alternative providers and the traditional providers. It is unique, we are the first provider to bring a full spectrum of services, including both legal and compliance.’

When asked about Deloitte’s ambitions for the UK market, Meeter said: ‘It will be substantial. It has to be meaningful to satisfy our clients.’

He confirmed that an immediate priority was to hire a senior partner, in order to satisfy the SRA’s requirements for attaining an ABS.

Matt Ellis, Deloitte’s managing partner for tax and legal, added: ‘We don’t want to replicate a traditional law firm. 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.’

The new consultancy arm, being launched in conjunction with the legal business, will comprise of over 100 professionals across ten countries. Meeter said that a 2016 survey carried out by the accountancy firm showed that ‘62% of legal counsel, general counsel, CEOs and CFOs are looking to significantly review and transform the way in which their legal function operates.’

During 2017, PwC mounted a sustained a campaign to broaden its legal offering, launching a law firm in Washington DC as well as a Lawyers On Demand-esque contract lawyering service.