PwC will continue to spearhead the push by the Big Four accountancy firms into the global legal services market with the launch of a law firm in Washington DC.
ILC Legal will open in the US capital later this month to service US multinationals in their business dealings overseas.
Led by PwC’s international business reorganisations leader Richard Edmundson, the firm will not advise on US law but support American companies on matters relating to their operations abroad: these will include international corporate structuring, M&A support, labour, financial services, immigration, cybersecurity and data protection, corporate secretarial, tax controversy and dispute resolution.
A number of other lawyers and support staff will also relocate from the UK to work at ILC, which will operate as a separate legal entity from PwC.
In the UK, PwC Legal was integrated into the wider firm in September 2016 following the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s approval of an alternative business structure licence in 2014 for the firm.
Revenue at PwC Legal jumped 25% to £59.9 in 2016, but senior partner Shirley Brookes told Legal Business at the time that the strategy was not to mimic a law firm: ‘Our strategy is dead simple. It is to offer to clients a legal service that complements something that PwC is doing. We are not trying to be a standalone law firm, it has got to be that complementary offering – that is our differentiator in the market.’
PwC’s latest move will further add to the debate whether the Big Four are a tangible threat to law firms. PwC, EY, Deloitte and KPMG have all invested heavily in their legal services in the past three years, partly helped by the deregulation of the UK industry under the Legal Services Act.
The PwC global network has combined income of around $500m. KPMG generated more than £12m in the UK, while several commentators put EY’s UK revenues in the £15m-£20m range.
For more on the rise of the accountants in law, read ‘Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Four? – Inside the accountants’ assault on law’ (£)