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‘The first phase’: EY launches financial regulatory service with Bakers hire and 11-strong team

EY Law is set to launch a financial regulatory practice in the City with the hire of Baker & McKenzie financial services partner Steven Francis, alongside an 11-strong team of lawyers.

Both Francis and Weil, Gotshal & Manges’ counsel and head of private funds regulation James Gee will join EY as executive directors this month (May) within its financial services legal practice. Both will work on financial services client accounts and report to Matthew Kellett, head of financial services at EY Law, alongside a team of ten associates.

The mass hire will allow EY to create a complimentary legal service to its existing corporate, commercial and employment practice. Kellett told Legal Business: ‘This is the first phase of our growth. We are focusing on our financial services clients and helping them with their big volume work.’

Francis has experience of advising insurance businesses, banks and investment firms on regulatory matters across Europe and was previously a member of the management team in the Financial Services Authority’s enforcement division. He joined Bakers in May 2014, before which he was a partner at RPC from 2008 and where he helped establish the firm’s financial services and regulatory group.

EY was the third of the ‘big four’ accountancy firms to be granted an alternative business structure licence by the Solicitors Regulation Authority at the end of 2014. It announced earlier this month it was setting up alliance with South Korean firm Apex Legal, and also confirmed further plans for a legal practice to be established in Hong Kong by the end of the financial year.