Legal Business

PwC ups the ante in legal services with new Fragomen US alliance

PwC ups the ante in legal services with new Fragomen US alliance

Building on the Big Four’s sustained attempts to disrupt the legal services market, PwC has extended its presence in the US through a partnership with immigration specialist Fragomen.

The agreement, announced today (24 September), will see the two entities jointly market their respective immigration services in the US.  The alliance gives PwC access to Fragomen’s considerable stateside firepower, with the firm boasting 16 offices across the country.

Julia Onslow-Cole, London-based head of PwC’s well-established global immigration practice, commented: ‘Making our respective immigration teams available to clients, particularly in the US, will provide an even deeper level of local insight. The PwC and Fragomen alliance will also facilitate more strategic, global insights on the impact of government policies on both corporate immigration and mobility.’

Austin Fragomen, chairman of Fragomen’s executive committee, added: ‘Immigration strategy and compliance has never been more important in the mobility environment. Clients seeking aggregated legal, tax and mobility services will get best-in-class services by working with Fragomen and PwC.’

Global 100 player Fragomen generated $577m in revenue over the last financial year, a 7% increase over the previous period. The New York-bred firm also consists of 555 lawyers, 63 of which are equity partners while 57 are non-equity.

The Fragomen alliance is not PwC’s first foray into the US market – it follows the launch of a law firm in Washington DC last year. The firm, ILC Legal, does not advise on US law but instead supports American companies on their operations abroad in areas such as immigration, cyber security and dispute resolution.

PwC also entered into the contract lawyering market last year, launching a service called Flexible Legal Resources. The operation will initially focus on the financial services sector but PwC’s pool of contract lawyers will eventually cover clients from all sectors, providing support work for corporate, commercial and data protection.

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.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

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’

Legal Business

Ashurst’s London pensions head makes move to PwC legal

Ashurst’s London pensions head makes move to PwC legal

PwC Legal has hired Marcus Fink, London head of pensions in Ashurst‘s small pensions practice. Fink moved to Ashurst from Weil, Gotshal & Manges in 2008 as a senior associate, and was made up to partner in 2012.

Fink acts for pension scheme trustees and private and publicly listed UK and multinational employers. He will be replaced by counsel John Gordon who arrives from Linklaters in June.

Revenue at PwC Legal soared in the 2015/16 financial year from £48.5m to £59.9m, an increase of 25%. Led by PwC head of legal Shirley Brookes, the legal arm of the accounting giant also posted net income of £11m. Of the total revenue, £56m of that is UK fee income.

Notably in the past 12 months PwC Legal has taken on Ashurst corporate partner Keith McGuire in Singapore, and former Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy partner Laetitia Costa last June who was brought on to run its banking and finance team in London.

PwC head of legal Shirley Brookes said: ‘We are really pleased to welcome Marcus to our legal team when he joins next month as we continue to drive our growth plans. Marcus has a fantastic reputation in the market, particularly in pensions scheme investment matters. We have invested a lot in our pensions legal practice recently and the practice is going from strength to strength. Marcus’s expertise really complements that of the existing team, as well as further adds to PwC’s first class pensions multi-disciplinary advisory practice.’

However, the accounting giant is not exempt from exits. Going the other way, in December Norton Rose Fulbright hired former board member at PwC Legal John Berriman to join its board as its new global chief operating officer, replacing former operations head Mark Whitley. In February it also emerged Bird & Bird had boosted its London office, hiring a team from PwC Legal including partners Andy Brown and Julian Balson and three other fee earners.

In March Ashurst launched a European high-yield offering, picking up Allen & Overy senior associate Tamer Bahgat, who has been made up to partner at Ashurst, and Linklaters counsel Natalia Sokolova. The firm has also hired Linklaters leveraged finance senior associate Pierre Roux in Paris, who will be made up to partner in the move. Roux’s hire follows the departure of a group of five corporate partners in Paris – collectively responsible for a book of business worth £8m to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

georgiana.tudor@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

‘We are not trying to be a standalone law firm’ – PwC Legal to integrate into wider accountancy practice through MDP

‘We are not trying to be a standalone law firm’ – PwC Legal to integrate into wider accountancy practice through MDP

PwC Legal is to integrate into the wider accountancy firm PwC UK from tomorrow (1 October), enabling the outfit to operate as a multi-disciplinary practice instead of a standalone LLP.

The move follows the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) approval of an alternative business structure (ABS) licence in 2014 for PwC Legal, which is now completely owned by PwC.

Commenting on the move Shirley Brookes, senior partner at PwC Legal said: ‘We’ve invested heavily in our people and skills and all of our practice areas grew this year. The integration into PwC is the logical step given the shared aim of both firms to deliver high-quality, high-value services to clients through strong relationships.’

PwC Legal currently has 16 partners, 26 directors and a 350-strong UK team based across London, Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester and Belfast providing legal services across nine practices including corporate and banking, dispute resolution, cyber security and immigration.

Earlier this month, it was reported that revenue at the outfit had soared this financial year, from £48.5m to £59.9m, an increase of 25%. Net income stood at £11m, with £56m of the total revenue UK fee income. There are twelve levels of compensation at the accounting giant’s legal arm, with partner earnings ranging from £270,000 to £1.1m. The 26 directors are former non-equity partners of the PwC Legal LLP – the PwC UK partnership does not have non-equity partners.

Speaking to Legal Business in September, Brookes said that PwC’s strategy was not to mimic law firms, despite concerns that accountancy practices are taking a bite out of the traditional legal services market.

Brookes said: ‘Our strategy is dead simple. It is to offer to clients a legal service that compliments something that PwC is doing. We are not trying to be a standalone law firm, it has got to be that complimentary offering – that is our differentiator in the market.’

She added: ‘Our pensions practice is totally integrated with the tax practice and the actuarial practice around structuring pension schemes – it has been our standout performer in terms of growth and profitability for probably the last three years.’

In June this year, PwC Legal hired former Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy partner Laetitia Costa to run its banking and finance team in London. Costa, who has over 15 years’ experience in leveraged finance, real estate and debt restructuring transactions will oversee the growth and development of the firm’s banking and finance practices.

In February PwC Legal made two key hires with the appointment of pensions partner David Farmer who joined from DLA Piper and corporate partner Thomas Colmer who was previously with Osborne Clarke.

kathryn.mccann@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Here come the accountants: PwC Legal hires former Milbank partner to head City finance division

Here come the accountants: PwC Legal hires former Milbank partner to head City finance division

PwC Legal has hired former Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy partner Laetitia Costa to run its banking and finance team in London.

Costa will oversee the growth and development of the firm’s banking and finance practices. Costa left Milbank one year ago, three months after her promotion to partnership.

She has over 15 years’ experience in leveraged finance, real estate and debt restructuring transactions advising arrangers, funds, private equity firms and corporations; working with clients such as Goldman Sachs, Nomura, UBS and Credit Suisse.

Before her role at Milbank, Costa worked at a range of Magic Circle and City firms. She completed her training at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer before moving on to Ashurst’s Paris office for two years. From Ashurst, Costa moved to Allen & Overy’s Paris office for another two years. In a further Magic Circle move, Costa shifted to Clifford Chance’s Paris office for seven years before landing her position at Milbank.

PwC Legal head of M&A Mark Crofskey said: ‘We already have an outstanding borrower-side banking practice and Laetitia’s experience strongly complements both that and our M&A practice.’

Earlier this year PwC Legal made two key hires with the appointment of pensions partner David Farmer who joined from DLA Piper and corporate partner Thomas Colmer who was previously with Osborne Clarke.

The move comes as legal spin-outs from big four accountantcy firms continue to pose a significant threat to the mid-market.

madeleine.farman@legalease.co.uk

Read more on the rise of the accountants in: ‘Coming Soon – assessing the big forces shaping the future of law’

Legal Business

PwC Legal targets £100m turnover by 2018 as revenues rise 15%

PwC Legal targets £100m turnover by 2018 as revenues rise 15%

PwC Legal has performed solidly for the financial year ending 30 June 2015 with revenue rising 15% to £41m, while the firm has set itself an audacious target of £100m to reach by the end of 2018.

It’s a marked increase on last year in which the firm saw revenue marginally improve to £35.6m compared to £35.1m in 2012/13. Speaking to Legal Business, senior partner Shirley Brookes says growth this year was due to a mix of corporate M&A work ‘picking up’ alongside immigration work which has gone ‘from strength to strength.’

‘We’re really pleased. We do have a revenue target to reach £100m by the end of 2018 and in the short term we have a lot more recruitment planned – there are four or five hires to be made in the next few months.’

PwC 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 separate legal arm. It has further invested heavily in lateral hiring including the recruit of Mayer Brown banking and finance partner Jorg Wulfken in Frankfurt as the firm looks to build a ‘sizeable’ financial services offering outside of the US.

Last year it also made investments in its UK offering with the hire of Addleshaw Goddard partner Neal Shepherd to spearhead regional growth, particularly in the North of England, as well as McDermott Will & Emery partner Mark Crofskey, who now leads the M&A team in London, and Fieldfisher partner Stewart Room to its cyber security practice.

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

PwC Legal hires Mayer Brown’s former German chief in financial services drive

PwC Legal hires Mayer Brown’s former German chief in financial services drive

PwC Legal has expanded its German legal team with the hire of Mayer Brown banking and finance partner Jorg Wulfken in Frankfurt as the firm looks to build a ‘sizeable’ financial services offering outside of the US.

Wulfken is set to join the firm in early July and will lead the firm’s nationwide practice group for banking, insurance and investment. He joined Mayer Brown from Clifford Chance in 2002 and went on to serve in management, including as managing partner of the firm’s German offices and sitting on its Asian board.

Recommended by The Legal 500, Wulfken is experienced in representing arrangers, issuers, lenders, funds and the German Government in finance deals, M&A, and securitisations. Major mandates include advising on Lone Star’s €3.6bn non-performing loan (NPL) purchase from Hypo Real Estate and Eurohypo’s NPL joint venture with Citigroup. He also represented the State of Lower Austria on the securitization of a €2.6bn housing loan portfolio, one of the first securitisation transactions in Austria.

Currently housing a near 20-strong lawyer headcount in its German operations, this latest hire is indicative of the firm’s international growth strategy. Speaking to Legal Business, PwC global banking & capital markets tax head, Hans-Ulrich Lauermann, said: ‘This hire is part of our global strategy to build a sizeable financial services legal network outside the US. We have already quite a few hire calibre hires on board including in Australia, Spain and France. Germany was next on the list – we want to push our law firm forward and enhance our capabilities in financial services.’

He added: ‘We want to grow steadily and get to a size of seven to eight partners over the next four years.’

Last year it made investments in its UK offering with the hire of Addleshaw Goddard partner, Neal Shepherd, to spearhead regional growth, particularly in the North of England, as well as McDermott Will & Emery partner Mark Crofskey who now leads the M&A team in London, and Fieldfisher partner Stewart Room to its cyber security practice.

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

PwC Legal’s Stewart Room: ‘New year, new privacy and security strategy’

PwC Legal’s Stewart Room: ‘New year, new privacy and security strategy’

New year is traditionally the time to change our ways. As we reflect back on the year just gone, perhaps we see that an inch has gone on to the waistline, or we’re more out of breath as we run for the train, or the savings have diminished even further. All good prompts to change our ways and come up with new life strategies?

Reflecting back on 2014 and what the year meant for privacy and security in business, we see some monumental events. The European Parliament finally voted through the proposed General Data Protection Regulation, bringing closer the world of mega privacy and security fines. The EU Data Retention Directive was overturned by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), creating huge dilemmas for telecos and internet service providers, and the need for emergency action by the Government to stabilise the law (see the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act). Established ideas about global web search, data controllership and establishment were turned on their head by the decision of the European courts in the Google Spain case. The lawfulness of the EU Safe Harbour decision that underpins much of the transatlantic traffic of data from Europe to the US, including Facebook’s, was referred to the CJEU for judgment by the Irish High Court. Russia accelerated the process of isolation of its data. Over Christmas a mini cyber cold war, if not a mini cyber war, seemed to unfold in real time before our eyes, as the US and North Korea locked horns over the Sony hack.

It was not just the media sector that was badly affected – the retail sector and the financial services industry were both badly shaken by a relentless run of cyber security breaches. One hack cost a retail chief executive his job. The security of cloud storage was put under a glaring spotlight, as celebrity photos were released to the world.

For business, all of these stories are connected, but the highest denominator – the one that really matters – is that they tell us that we are living through a period of rapid and disruptive change in our digital worlds. Nothing can be taken for granted. Established norms cannot be relied on.

Breaking this down, these stories convey these key messages, from which we can find many business impacts:

  • Activism. At the heart of the legal environment for data protection and security there is a new sense of activism, consisting of citizen activists, regulator activists, judicial activists and political activists. The activists are driving law reform (legislative, case law and regulatory strategies). Sometimes they can combine to achieve unprecedented outcomes. The decision in the Google Spain case is one where the citizen activist combined with the regulator activist to put the future of global web search in the hands of an activist court. Clearly, if activists can change how a technology giant functions, every business can be changed.
  • Threats. The cyber security threat, which many businesses have shrugged off as a scare story, is real and the fact that very significant damage can be caused – in business disruption, brand damage and legal damage – cannot be denied, not even by the most blinkered optimist.
  • Globalisation. While the digital and cyber worlds and the technologies that underpin them reject the idea of national boundaries, the real world is seeking to put up boundaries, or is seeking to extend current boundaries into foreign territories. There seems to be a global regulatory arms race underway, as particular nations, areas of combined regional interests and treaty zones seek to assert their behavioural, cultural and political norms and standards over others. Simply put, businesses may need to chart new global courses.

Businesses that thrive and succeed in times of rapid and disruptive change are ones that are honest with themselves about the challenges. Corporate history is littered with examples of once-dominant businesses that find themselves suddenly obsolete and the case studies already include ones where the trigger to obsolescence was a digital shift. Blockbuster and Kodak spring to mind.

The disruptive changes that we are seeing in the fields of data protection and cyber security will certainly result in the ruin of some businesses. Some will collapse under the weight of security failure. Some will fold because their models cannot sustain the cost of mounting regulatory burdens. Some will surely go the way of News of the World, if caught acting in a seriously illegal manner. Many more businesses will be forced to find new revenue models, as the legal environment and outside pressures cause a shift in attitudes to advertising, profiling and tracking.

There will be big winners too, of course, winners united by a common thread. Rather than burying their heads in the sand, they will have faced up to the challenges and built strategies for success. Strategy is at the heart of everything. Businesses need to develop new approaches to the new realities of data protection and cyber security. Reviewing and adjusting strategies is the single most important new year’s resolution that any business can adopt to ensure continuing success on data protection and cyber security. A simple test would be to ask these questions:

  • Have we got a strategy for data protection and cyber security?
  • Could we describe the strategy to a regulator, customer, shareholder or reporter?
  • Are we sure that the strategy is still fit for purpose?

Only a person who can honestly answer ‘yes’ to all these questions would conclude that a strategy review is unnecessary in 2015. However, that person, while honest, is probably still an optimist.

Stewart Room is global head of data protection and cyber security at PwC Legal

Legal Business

New year, new privacy and security strategy

New year, new privacy and security strategy

PwC Legal’s Stewart Room argues that 2015 is the year for companies and advisers to stop the denial of the realities of cyber security

New year is traditionally the time to change our ways. As we reflect back on the year just gone, perhaps we see that an inch has gone on to the waistline, or we’re more out of breath as we run for the train, or the savings have diminished even further. All good prompts to change our ways and come up with new life strategies?

Legal Business

PwC Legal targets regional growth with Addleshaw Goddard partner hire

PwC Legal targets regional growth with Addleshaw Goddard partner hire

PwC Legal continues to invest in expanding its offering and has today (16 October) announced the appointment of Addleshaw Goddard partner, Neal Shepherd, to ‘spearhead its regional growth, particularly in the North of England’.

Shepherd, who joined Addleshaws in 2011 from DLA Piper where he had been a partner since 1996, begins his new role today and will be based in the firm’s Manchester office. He is tasked with working with businesses in the region and focused on mid-market M&A while also ‘expanding areas that complement PwC’s business’ including employment and pensions.

His hire follows that of recent senior hires made by the firm in September, including McDermott Will & Emery partner Mark Crofskey, who is now leading the M&A team in London, while Fieldfisher partner Stewart Room was appointed to lead PwC Legal’s cyber security practice.

Shirley Brookes, senior partner at PwC Legal, said: ‘It’s an exciting time for the business. We’re seeing strong demand for our multi-disciplinary approach and our recent appointments will help us make the most of this appetite’.

EY also recruited from Addleshaws’ corporate team this year with the hire of corporate managing partner Philip Goodstone who joined the firm in September, and who has been tasked with building a legal capability for EY in the UK.

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

PwC Legal makes City corporate push with McDermott partner hire

PwC Legal makes City corporate push with McDermott partner hire

PwC Legal has hired McDermott Will & Emery City-based corporate partner Mark Crofskey in a bid to boost its UK legal arm’s M&A team. Expected to join the accountancy giant next month, Crofskey will work in PwC Legal’s M&A practice alongside corporate partner Alistair Hogarth in leading a team.

Crofskey joined McDermott’s London office as a partner in 2008 from Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and has advised UK, US, Russian, EU and Kazakh clients on a wide range of corporate actions including IPOs, joint ventures, disposals and acquisitions.

The hire follows that of Field Fisher Waterhouse technology partner Stewart Room who joined in September to lead PwC’s cross-service offering on cyber and data security.

PwC Legal’s UK senior partner Shirley Brookes previously told Legal Business of its plans to enhance its legal services capability after becoming the first of its direct competitors to secure an alternative business structure (ABS) licence in February, a move which enabled it to own PwC Legal and consolidate its global network of over 2,000 lawyers.

This firm unveiled a 9% increase in revenue to £40.5m from £37m, alongside a 14.5% dip in profit to £9.1m from £10.7m according to its 2012/13 UK LLP accounts at Companies House.

EY bulked up its corporate offering with the hire of Addleshaw Goddard corporate managing partner Philip Goodstone who joined the firm in September, who has been tasked with building a legal capability for EY in the UK.

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk