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KPMG Law: 2014 and 2024.


Accountancy firm KPMG is planning to double the size of its legal practice over the next three years.

The Big Four firm is looking to expand its legal arm by employing another 220 lawyers by the end of 2024. The prospective new hires include 45 partners and directors, which would result in a bulky offering of over 400 lawyers.

“The UK legal services market is growing and evolving rapidly. Technology is disrupting the market and clients are changing the way they buy legal services," said Nick Roome, head of KPMG Law in the UK. He added that the firm's "connected approach is a key principle that has shaped our vision for KPMG Law and has made our practice a critical element of KPMG’s future growth strategy."

Stuart Fuller, head of global legal services, said KPMG had created "a different type of law offering. We’re delivering integrated legal services with high performing lawyers supporting businesses across their geographic footprint. Few can match such reach." 

KPMG Law was set up in 2014, alongside the firm's tax, consultancy and deal advisory teams. In RollOnFriday's In-House survey last year, KPMG's legal team was preferred by some clients over traditional law firms. A GC in the retail sector said it was the best firm they had used as KPMG offered "good quality tax law advice at accountant's prices". 

The head of legal in a healthcare business said that KPMG Law was also their "standout" firm, as "the multi-disciplinary team (i.e. not all lawyers) worked really well and we got excellent legal and technical advice delivered in a joined up way. That made my job of sifting the important from the detail much easier."

The in-house chief added that there was "less joined-up thinking in traditional partnerships" and "the positive experience with the Big 4 showed the weaknesses in traditional law firms where, for example, a strong corporate partner can be let down by a weak real estate lawyer."


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Comments

Anon 06 May 22 09:29

So, a large well run organisation with diversity of thought, genuine commercial understanding, the ability of think beyond law and with a Board room which isn’t full of lawyers? Yep, cheerio traditional firms. All sat there arrogantly praising the virtues of taxis while Uber is just about to overtake and fundamentally change the industry… 

Laugh man 06 May 22 09:36

Thank you Anon @09:29 I have not laughed that hard in a long time. 

Anon 06 May 22 09:46

The in-house chief added that there was "less joined-up thinking in traditional partnerships" and "the positive experience with the Big 4 showed the weaknesses in traditional law firms where, for example, a strong corporate partner can be let down by a weak real estate lawyer."

In what way are KPMG able to avoid this issue? Unless KPMG have suddenly found a super partner with expertise in every discipline, are they not going to have the same issue. The issue may also spread across disciplines in that they might have a strong corporate tax advisor, but a weak corporate lawyer.

Anonymous 06 May 22 09:48

KPMG finding the winning formula here by not having any weak real estate lawyers.

Via the medium of having none at all.

Genius.

Anonymous 06 May 22 10:06

"The positive experience with the Big 4 showed the weaknesses in traditional law firms where, for example, a strong corporate partner can be let down by a weak real estate lawyer"

Right, so only super duper strong lawyers are going to be at KPMG? They'll suffer the same issues as any large firm... and ultimately they'll end up pillaging their clients like they (allegedly) do with their other services. 

Some clients have always been daft enough to go to their accountants for legal services. This is just a bigger version of that. 

 

Anonymous 06 May 22 10:31

09:48 is being very unfair on KPMG.

They avoid the problem of having strong Corporate partners let down by weaker colleagues by ensuring that they have no strong Corporate partners in the first place.

Amongst the blind, the one other blind person is unremarkable. So sayeth Confucius.

Anon 06 May 22 10:41

Stuart Fuller is based in Sydney so I’m not convinced that he truly understands the English legal market from land down under. 

Anonymous 06 May 22 10:48

They will be competing with the likes of TLT on the high volume contract work or repapering exercises. They arent going to match the magic circle on proper advice as who would use KPMG for that (outside of maybe Tax)?

MarketWatcher 06 May 22 10:57

I’m pretty sure KPMG say this every year.

Quaking 06 May 22 11:40

Basically they're going to take on some more bulk processing work that will probably be done by machines in 20 years. This is about as much a threat to the traditional law firm model as Davina McCall's latest fitness DVD is to Cadburys.

Anonymous 06 May 22 18:35

"Anon 06 May 22 09:29

.... cheerio traditional firms. All sat there arrogantly praising the virtues of taxis while Uber is just about to overtake and fundamentally change the industry… "

This made me laugh as I know the consultants brought in to advise on the risk Uber posed to Addison Lee and basically said "nothing to worry about guys".

Current KPMG Law 07 May 22 06:03

You have underestimated our ability and the size of our practice. Our London team is filled with talented lawyers who despise the traditional UK firms for their overly black letter approach that adds no value to the modern commercial clients in terms of solving business problems. We are a mixed of legal, consultancy, business mentoring practice - and we don’t really see the UK or US firms as our competitors because we’re just more premium based on clients’ feedback, some of whom are Fortune 500 corporations. We also advise on cross-border work and will hopefully be able to travel around the world soon to deserve our clients.

Ex-lawyer 07 May 22 12:06

We use mostly SC and global firms to deal with our legal issues (and sometimes MC firms for more specialised advice and elite US for notes/bond related issues). Would I use Big 4 for legal issues? No. But would I use Big 4 for other issues? Hell yes, but only in relation to audit and tax. We need real lawyers to solve legal issues, not business advisors who have some obscure, ambiguous, hybrid offerings.

Wildoats 08 May 22 04:14

KPMG’s approach will prevail. It has been, is and will be a war of attrition but the accountants will win.
Accountants “get” business. They have the ear of chief and finance execs. Solicitors don’t. Solicitors don’t understand business. That’s not true; they don’t understand anything outside law.

Of course the cloth eared majority will downtick this comment to death, but from someone who has been a director of a FTSE 100 subsidiary, group GC, City associate and a partner in two firms (go on, dig and snipe all you like - water off a duck’s arse to me), I am sorry to say solicitors are operating in the dark ages. 
 

When I returned to private practice it was Dickensian compared to industry. The environment is nothing short of infantile. The confidence is unsubstantiated, brittle and prone to ridiculous behaviour and there is no commercial awareness in private practice. None. Sure, lawyers know what’s going on, but they have no idea how businesses operate. 

To those solicitors in commercial firms and and those determined to join them: wake up. KPMG is merely representative of one of the existential threats facing private practice. Before you dismiss them or laugh out loud, call your most important client and ask them what they think. Hmm…still confident? Didn’t think so. 

Deny and denigrate all you like. You’re wasting your time. Spend it getting to know what your clients are doing, where they’re going and what they’re after. Moreover, spend time understanding how companies and similar entities operate. Do they operate like law firms? If not, why not? 
 

Instead of replying with angry, vicious, petulant, belligerent and obnoxious comments, just think. Do you know how companies operate? Do you have access to your client’s monthly management accounts, risk register, five year plan, budget, monthly board meeting minutes, AGM minutes, minutes of their parent company’s monthly/annual board meetings? Access to the thoughts of major shareholders or NEDs? Do you really know how your client operates? Do you know what their competitors are doing? Do you know what the regulator is doing and planning? Why? Because their accountants do. 

Try being open, inquisitive, innovative, bold and accepting. You’ll be better service providers. Or stick to your current MO, update your CV and contact HR at KPMG. 

 

Human 08 May 22 09:04

In my experience most of the people who read this comment don't know the difference between a balance sheet and a profit and loss account.

Mr Coffee 08 May 22 10:32

Just remind me - is this only the 58th or is it already up to the 59th time a Big Four accounting firm has promised imminent disruption of the legal market?

Wake me up when we get to 60.  Actually on second thoughts, don't bother.

Aussie Pete 08 May 22 13:08

Maybe see how things are going for PwC in Australia when advising JBS on tax restructuring using their lawyers and non-lawyers. When the purpose of the accounting firm is to advise large clients, it appears more to give the authorities grounds to access such advice https://www.afr.com/companies/professional-services/pwc-wrongly-claimed-legal-privilege-over-work-demanded-by-ato-court-20220325-p5a7tw  

Anonymous 08 May 22 21:04

Was Wildoats really writing that at 4am? Or is he based in Australia?

Emotional 08 May 22 21:51

KPMG lawyers “despise” traditional law firms? Strong words and, for the majority, unlikely to be accurate. If you believe you can offer a better service, crack on. And enjoy yourselves in the process. 

Anonymous 08 May 22 23:29

Ah yes, "game changing"

The same way Eddie Stobart and Co-Op Legal were going to take on traditional law firms...

Anon 09 May 22 07:48

I moved to Sydney 4.5 years ago and am at a SC firm (band 1 firm in here). PwC Legal in Australia made a bit of noise back then but it has made no progress or caused disruptions to the industry at all. It has developed a reputation of being rubbish in this market, and no large clients would use them.
They now focus more on the fixed fee SME M&A deals (A$5-20m) for family businesses and e-disclosure (apparently using AI with 99% accuracy and with minimal human input - heh) - a really sad shop.

The same will happen to Big 4 in London and Europe, unless they poach a large number of partners from MC firms which I doubt they would be feasible (as these partners might as well go to an US firm).

Anonymous 09 May 22 12:10

"Instead of replying with angry, vicious, petulant, belligerent and obnoxious comments, just think. Do you know how companies operate? ... Because their accountants do."

Given my experience with Big 4 accounting firms to date, I'm not entirely convinced by that representation.

Not Aussie Pete 09 May 22 12:31

Hehe, this has been going on for as long as I can remember.

This time it's different I guess. 

Anonymous 09 May 22 12:32

"Just remind me - is this only the 58th or is it already up to the 59th time a Big Four accounting firm has promised imminent disruption of the legal market?"

 

This time though, this time...

Bean counters and lifetime consultants understand the clients better than anyone, you see.

See you at the Jobcentre+

Insider 12 May 22 08:51

KPMG is the elite “new law” out of the four. Watch out, big law.

Anonymous 12 May 22 09:08

"good quality tax law advice at accountant's prices" - that's exactly the issue here. When we are talking commodity, this may be true and they might have a point. But when it comes to higher-end stuff, they will just not have the talent. Why would I switch to Big4 "law" for half the salary, knowing that the clients will expect the same level service / availability / responsiveness and with the same or even worse career prospects?

Add to this that clients are risk averse and will not give their higher end / higher risk work to someone who offers to do it at "accountant's prices".

 

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