Legal Business Blogs

‘We are offering something new’: EY latest Big Four giant granted ABS licence

EY has become the latest accountancy giant granted an alternative business structure (ABS) licence by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, in a bid to provide ‘integrated, multidisciplinary’ legal services across England and Wales.

Announced this morning (1 December), EY intends to provide corporate, commercial, employment and financial services legal advice alongside its existing services.

Having made several hires from private practice in recent months, EY’s legal team will be led by Philip Goodstone, who joined from Addleshaw Goddard, and Matthew Kellett, who was recruited from Berwin Leighton Paisner. Kellett will lead financial services, while Goodstone will head up all other services. Former Olswang employment head Daniel Aherne will build and lead the employment law team and a further 30 people will be recruited in the next six months.

EY’s UK chairman and regional managing partner in the UK & Ireland, Steve Varley, said: ‘We aren’t competing with the business models of traditional law firms; we are offering something new. By working closely with other parts of the organisation, clients will benefit from our global scale, in-depth industry knowledge as well as having a single point of contact for all of their professional service needs.

‘Whether advising on large transactions, employment structures or group reorganisation projects, having lawyers, accountants and other professional advisers working side by side will be a real advantage to our clients and ultimately help us to provide a better level of service.’

Philip Goodstone added: ‘While we are still in the recruitment phase, we have already received strong levels of interest from a number of clients. Our priority is now to grow the team to ensure that we are able to meet this demand. We welcome the opportunity to build a quality UK offering with both junior and experienced lawyers in a strong multidisciplinary practice.’

EY’s global law practice already has over 1100 people in 60 locations and in the last 12 months has created legal teams in Mexico, Costa Rica, Singapore, China, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand.

In early October, KPMG acquired an ABS licence and became the first of the Big Four to be awarded a licence to operate on a multidisciplinary basis.

PwC made the first move, announcing in late January that it had received approval from the SRA to become an ABS, meaning it can now directly own limited liability partnership, PwC Legal, and bring together its 2,000-lawyer network.

The last of the Big Four, Deloitte, has kept the lowest profile in terms of its plans for expansion in the legal market. Having previously denied any plans to set up an ABS, it announced the appointment of Rotterdam-based Piet Hein Meeter as global managing director of Deloitte Legal, in June to build an international legal practice.