In the first major development since PricewaterhouseCoopers last month received authorisation from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to become an alternative business structure (ABS), the accounting giant announced on 1 March that it has formed a new law firm in Canada by tying up with Toronto immigration outfit Bomza Law Group.
The new firm will be called PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law, and Christopher Kong, national managing partner of PwC Canada’s tax services said: ‘With a range of global employment opportunities and the related complexities to employees and employers, an immigration law firm affiliated with PwC provides an opportunity to help our clients with the mobility of their people.’
PwC is the only one of the Big Four accountants to maintain a serious legal offering since the withdrawal of the likes of KPMG shortly after the turn of the century, and last year revealed that it was looking at a number of different options in the legal sector, including conversion to an ABS, to allow it to offer a more joined up service with its, until now, entirely separate legal arm.
Of the remainder of the Big Four, KPMG and EY have been considering their position and earlier this year, KPMG – which until the advent of Sarbanes-Oxley in 2002 ran 3,000-strong network KLegal – made a statement of intent with the hire of DLA corporate partner Nick Roome, with more legal hires in the pipeline.
Deloitte is the only one of the Big Four to have so far said it has no plans to enter the legal space.
Moves building on the accountants own networks are being closely watched in the City, and PwC’s latest venture joins the firm’s global immigration network of over 600 people in 126 countries.
Speaking as PwC obtained its ABS status last month, Crispin Passmore, SRA executive director of policy, said: ‘The authorisation of PwC Legal as an ABS is another example of the innovative changes taking place in the legal market. Nearly two years on from the first ABS licensed by the SRA, we are seeing further increased diversity in the supply of legal services, and that provides consumers with greater choice.
‘Throughout 2014, we expect to see further change as more businesses take advantage of the liberalisation to innovate and grow the legal market, be it through increased exports of corporate legal services, improving access and affordability for small business, or helping individual consumers solve the problems of day-to-day life.’