10 Jan 2018

Deloitte set to take on traditional law firms

The Big Four accountancy giant is the latest to enter the legal playing field with major plans to develop its offerings to corporates and compete with law firms.


Deloitte has announced plans to become a major legal player. The Big Four accountancy firm is launching a menu of legal services in the UK and a global Legal Management Consulting (LMC) business in 10 countries. In the UK, it plans to offer managed services such as document review and contract management and a new focus on in-house legal departments, helping to exploit technology. In addition, Deloitte will extend its existing legal services in employment law, tax litigation and immigration work.  The firm intends to launch the new services early this year and will be working with clients to develop and test innovative approaches that address both opportunities and challenges in the legal market, including automation of processes and risk management. As part of this, Deloitte will apply for an Alternative Business Structure (ABS) licence and will be investing in new staff and advanced technology to meet demand.

Complex legal environment

Commenting on the move, Matt Ellis, managing partner for tax and legal at Deloitte, said: 'We don’t want to replicate a traditional law firm. We’re planning to use our technology and advisory skills to transform legal services and help address many of the challenges lawyers, whether in practice or in-house, are facing in today’s increasingly complex legal environment. By automating repetitive processes and completing routine tasks in a fraction of the time, lawyers will be able to spend more time on specialist areas.'

Worldwide legal services

Deloitte Global's  global Legal Management Consulting (LMC) business will also support the legal community world-wide by offering solutions to corporates. The initial legal management consulting teams will consist of over 100 professionals across the globe from Deloitte Legal, as well as other Deloitte practices. Piet Hein Meeter, global managing director of Deloitte Legal, said: 'Deloitte Global’s LMC offering will use our consultancy and technology skills alongside our legal expertise to address the challenges that face in-house legal teams. Our 2016 survey of in-house legal departments has shown that 62 per cent of legal counsel, general counsel, CEOs and CFOs, are looking to significantly review and transform the way in which their legal function operates - which is exactly what we’re looking to address with LMC.' He added that the firm was 'delighted with our innovative approach to legal services in the UK, which is a significant differentiator for us, but is fully aligned with our global LMC approach.'

Major disruption

Last year the Global Legal Post reported that the Big Four were poised to cause major disruption in the legal marketplace. With PwC reporting $500 million in legal earnings and Deloitte $250 million, they have a way to go to catch up with the top law firms but are growing at pace each year with EY reporting 20 per cent growth last year and 10 per cent in the last five consecutive years. Two in three law firm leaders believe that the Big Four are well positioned to take over moderate to high value work whilst nearly 70 per cent believe they could take marketshare in areas such as merger work. By leveraging the practice areas they already serve, the Big Four is gaining legal market share at a rapid pace by providing legal services in tax, finance, M&A (for lower value deals) and labour. Furthermore, emerging markets are the key to Big Four success in the legal space with 76 per cent of their lateral hires in Asia or Latin America.