Legal Business

Sponsored briefing: Legal trends in Greece

After overcoming a decade-long financial recession, Greece is currently going through a period of political stability and economic growth. During this period, the Greek government has taken a proactive role in charting a determined course for Greece that is friendly to investment, promotes growth and welcomes new business, primarily by enacting legislation that provides considerable incentives to investors.

In particular, during the year 2021, the Greek economy manifested a GDP growth of 8.3% and welcomed an increase of 90.2% in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), in accordance with the data provided by the Hellenic Statistical Authority and Bank of Greece respectively.

Legal Business

Riverview Law and Pangea3 brands to be dropped following EY acquisition

Big Four accountancy firm EY is finalising the combination of its two high-profile acquisitions, Riverview Law and Pangea3, into one managed services business under the EY Law brand.

The rebranding means that both Riverview and Pangea3, acquired over the last year, will be absorbed into EY Law’s global managed services delivery, while also keeping an onshore presence through Riverview’s office in Wirral.

Riverview chief executive Chris Price will take charge of the combined businesses as head of co-sourcing, with the unit being set up in 2018 as a means to assist global corporations in changing their operating models. The unit’s director, Rob Dinning, has been made associate partner, and will now collaborate with Price on the service’s management. Riverview founder Karl Chapman will remain in place as strategic adviser. The reorganisation will likely be followed by hires, as the firm looks to bulk up its managed services products globally.

Riverview was acquired by EY in August 2018, in a deal which saw global law giant DLA Piper offload its stake in the business, having previously owned 21% in its parent company LawVest. Though the financial details of the deal were not disclosed, Riverview’s revenue was believed to have risen to more than £10m at the time of the acquisition.

Managed services business Pangea3, meanwhile, was bought from technology giant Thomson Reuters in a deal completed in June. Thomson Reuters took the decision to sell after struggling to create synergy between Pangea3 and its primary business, while also fearing law firm customers would begin to see the company as a competitor.

The restructuring of the two businesses comes as EY reportedly struggled to fully integrate Riverview into the wider firm, while the integration of Pangea3 was proving equally complex.

Legal Business

The Big Four meets GCs – The hard sell

‘I have never instructed a Big Four firm on a legal matter,’ says one UK general counsel (GC) of a large multinational. ‘The accountants’ legal offering is not something I’m close to,’ concedes Tesco GC Adrian Morris. The respective legal chiefs at The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds Banking Group strike a similar note: ‘We don’t currently use any of them,’ says Michael Shaw, while Kate Cheetham notes: ‘Our use of these offerings is quite limited.’

Canvassing 20 GCs for this piece – including ten from the FTSE 100 – found only four had used the Big Four’s legal services.

Legal Business

EY makes further inroads into the legal sector after acquiring Thomson Reuters’ LPO arm

Less than a year after it acquired Riverview Law, EY has maintained its acquisitive form by agreeing to buy the managed legal services business of Thomson Reuters.

The acquisition of the business, named Pangea3, will see EY bolster its corporate legal department by more than 1,000 legal professionals across eight service delivery lines. Pangea3 aims to mitigate legal risk, reduce cost and provide efficiency to legal teams.

Unlike the expansionist EY, the sale comes as part of continued streamlining for Thomson Reuters. In August of last year, when EY was buying Riverview, Thomson Reuters agreed the sale of 55% of its financial risk business to private equity funds managed by Blackstone, while the Thomson Reuters Elite business that provides most of the company’s remaining legal sector products. The cost of the latest acquisition has not been disclosed, however the deal is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2019, subject to various closing conditions.

The agreement sees EY’s footprint in the legal sector deepen further. Its Big Four counterpart Deloitte signaled its intent in January when it hired Allen & Overy banking partner Michael Castle to lead its anticipated UK legal arm. The hire made Deloitte the last of the Big Four to establish its UK legal presence after acquiring its alternative business structure licence in January 2017.

EY’s global chairman and CEO, Mark Weinberger, said: ‘This new enhanced offering will make EY one of the leading professional services organisations for global legal advisory services and legal operations services, including legal function advisory, managed services and technology. The acquisition is an example of how EY is working to provide clients with holistic solutions, which are enabled by technology.’

Legal Business

The accountants keep coming: EY launches in Belfast with Axiom appointment


Big Four accountant Ernst & Young (EY) has appointed Axiom’s Aaron Stewart as a director to head up the launch of a legal services arm in Belfast.

According to EY, Stewart will be working with the accountant’s clients across the UK and will also be responsible for building and running a team in Belfast.

Commenting on the launch, Philip Goodstone, EY’s head of law in the UK said: ‘As we continue to grow our legal services team, we remain focussed on finding the best talent, regardless of geographical location. Aaron brings a wealth of experience to the role and will be a real asset to our clients across the UK.’

The move to expand the legal services team across the UK comes after the accountancy giant was granted an alternative business structure (ABS) licence by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in December 2014 in a bid to provide ‘integrated, multidisciplinary’ legal services across England and Wales.

Headed up by Addleshaw Goddard’s former corporate head Goodstone and Matthew Kellet who was recruited from Berwin Leighton Paisner, EY’s UK law practice has grown to a team of 40 since the firm received the licence with former Olswang employment head Daniel Aherne in charge of building and leading the employment law team.

EY’s global law practice has 1500 legal professionals in 67 countries with legal teams in Mexico, Costa Rica, Singapore, China, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand. Its core legal services are corporate commercial, employment, financial services and M&A/transactions.

Legal Business

Revolving doors: DWF makes Scottish insurance play as Skadden and EY make key hires


In this week’s appointments around up, law firms including Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, DWF and accountancy giant EY have all key appointments.

DWF announced the launch of a counter fraud team in Scotland to enhance its national fraud offering to the firm’s insurer client base – which includes Aviva, QBE, RSA, Travelers, and Zurich – with the recruit of Jill Sinclair as partner from Harper Macleod to lead the team.

Sinclair will head the team and work within DWF’s national counter fraud team led by Lorraine Carolan, former national head of claims validation at DAC Beachcroft.

The launch follows the firm’s acquisition of insurance boutique Fox Hartley in May this year, a move which bolstered the firm’s offering in litigation and alternative dispute resolution services for insurer clients.

US firm Skadden announced last Thursday (23 June) the hire of Reed Smith private equity real estate (PERE) partner Robert Porter as of counsel to its London office. Porter advises PERE firms, sovereign funds, property companies and financial institutions on UK and European real estate funds, joint ventures, M&A, financings and structured transactions across Europe and the Middle East. Porter, a former partner at CMS Cameon McKenna and Clifford Chance, will now head Skadden’s European PERE initiative.

Meanwhile, Big Four accountancy firm EY expanded its legal offering across Chile and Argentina with the hire of Jorge Garnier from Argentine power company Genneia, where he served as senior legal counsel, as an executive director to build a team focusing on corporate law. In Chile, the firm recruited Paola Bruzzone from retailer Falabella where she was general counsel. Her move to EY will see her lead the legal services group, which will focus on corporate and commercial law. The Chilean practice will initially focus on core offerings around corporate and commercial law, M&A and employment law.

EY also added to its legal team in Canada, where Toronto-based Norton Rose Fulbright corporate partner Anthony Kramreither joined EY Law to lead its business law team.

EY global law leader Cornelius Grossmann, said: ‘New legislation and compliance measures demand that we provide more expansive legal services globally. These key hires provide the breadth and experience required to deliver multidisciplinary services as we continue to acquire the leading talent for our growing teams.’

Legal Business

Easy access: EY lowers threshold for first UK trainee programme


Big Four accountancy firm EY will recruit eight trainee solicitors in the UK over the next two years, launching its first-ever lawyer training scheme in the UK.

The firm, which obtained an ABS licence in December last year, has opened applications this week for a September intake in 2016. It will take four applicants next year and another four in 2017.

And in line with EY’s wider recruitment criteria, students no longer need a 2:1 degree classification to apply. Instead EY will use a range of online ‘strength’ and numeracy assessments to test the applicants.

EY’s UK legal services team has grown to over 30 people and the firm expects this figure to double in the course of the next 12 months and beyond.

Applications close on 30 November for the programme which runs for two years. EY has not decided on a Legal Practitioners Course provider yet.

EY UK head of legal services Philip Goodstone said: ‘This is a really exciting development for us and reflects the level of client demand we are already receiving for our services, despite only opening our doors less than 12 months ago. We have big ambitions for the growth of the team and a training contract programme will allow us to develop and nurture top talent in house.’

The consultancy firm’s legal practice already has 1,500 legal professionals across 67 countries. Recent hires include former Addleshaw Goddard managing partner Paul Devitt and corporate partner Richard Thomas, who will leave the firm to join EY next year.

Legal Business

EY Law recruits competition chief from CC to spearhead state aid, antitrust and trade practice


Big Four accountant EY continues to enhance its international legal offering and has recruited Clifford Chance’s (CC) competition-focused counsel Steven Verschuur to lead its EU State aid, competition and trade law practice.

Verschuur has served as head of competition at CC’s Amsterdam practice for the last three years, where he split his time between the Dutch city and Brussels. Also a former Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer lawyer, he specialises in EU State aid, competition, trade law and merger control.

EY said there is an ‘increasing demand for strategic legal advice on the State aid aspects of tax structures and rulings’ and Verschuur, who will be based in Brussels, is ‘well-placed to meet clients’ needs working in close collaboration with EY’s international tax teams.’

EY global law leader Cornelius Grossmann added: ‘We are delighted that Steven has joined EY. His extensive experience in State aid, competition and trade law will be a great asset to our practice. Bringing in the right talent is central to our success, and to building a quality service offering in a multidisciplinary environment. We welcome Steven at an exciting time, as we continue to hone and expand our global practice.’

Verschuur’s departure follows that of Oliver Bretz, CC’s former global head of antitrust, who left after 15 years at the Magic Circle firm to launch a competition boutique in January.

EY has made good on its continued efforts to enhance its presence in the legal market, particularly in the Asia Pacific region. In April it announced an alliance with South Korean firm Apex Legal as part of a greater agenda to build a 200-strong team of lawyers spanning key commercial centres throughout Asia-Pacific.

Meanwhile, CC’s Amsterdam office also saw the departure of finance counsel Robert Masman, who left to join Hogan Lovells and makes partner in the process. Masman specialises in asset based and structured finance and will work closely with banking partner Wouter Jongen who was recruited in 2014.

Sharon Lewis, global head of Hogan Lovells’ finance practice, said: ‘Building our on the ground presence in Amsterdam is an important priority for our global finance practice as the Netherlands is such a key jurisdiction for cross-border banking and debt capital markets.’

Legal Business

EY’s legal march continues with former Addleshaws managing partner Devitt and corporate specialist Thomas


Just over a year after Paul Devitt stood down early as managing partner of Addleshaw Goddard, he is due to leave the firm along with fellow corporate partner Richard Thomas for big four accountancy firm EY.

Both partners will join EY’s expanding UK legal services practice in Manchester after a 12 month notice period with Addleshaws. EY also said it had plans to grow the team further with the duo taking a central role.

They will join fellow ex-Addleshaws partner Philip Goodstone, who heads up the practice. Commenting on the appointments, Goodstone said: ‘As we continue to grow our legal services practice, we remain focussed on finding the best talent and I’m confident that Paul and Richard will be fantastic additions to the team. They are both exceptional lawyers with outstanding reputations in both the North West and the UK more widely.’

In a statement, Addleshaws said: ‘After 22 years in our business, including five years as managing partner, Paul understandably feels ready for a new environment following a return in May 2014 to a full-time transactional role, and he goes with our very best wishes.’

‘It is always disappointing to lose talented people and we will be sorry to see Richard leave. He has been a great partner and we will miss him. The chance to build a practice in a different sphere of professional services is an attractive alternative for Richard and he also goes with our best wishes.’

Devitt stepped down as managing partner of Addleshaws last March, a year before his tenure was due to end on 30 April 2015. His early resignation kick-started a contested election between real estate partner Adrian Collins and business support and restructuring head John Joyce with the latter appointed last May for a three year term.

EY, which was granted an alternative business structure licence by the Solicitors Regulation Authority last December, has made several hires from private practice in recent months. As well as the recruitment of Goodstone from Addleshaws, the accountancy giant also hired Matthew Kellett, who was recruited from Berwin Leighton Paisner, to lead its financial services group and former Olswang employment head Daniel Aherne to build and lead the employment law team.

Legal Business

‘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.