The Big Four currently comprise EY, Deloitte, KPMG and PwC. All of them have been investing in providing legal services in multiple jurisdictions. However, the ‘legal services’ offered in the U.S may not be quite what they seem – if they exist at all.

The sell

Between them, all four consultancy firms advertise access to 1,500-3,500 lawyers across the globe working across up to 80 jurisdictions/ 90 countries. Except for ILC LLP (PwC U.S. Law firm) the proposition is pretty similar amongst the consultancy firms. The lawyers acting under their brand advise in-house legal departments and businesses on legal matters concerning the operation of a business.

The implication from the Big Four websites is that legal advice will be provided as part of a multi-faceted approach to problem solving. This is something that is moving towards the forefront of thought for the future of legal practice. However, most have a caveat for their services in the U.S jurisdiction.

U.S vs UK

The interesting dimension to this new competitor in the legal sector is the difference in manifestation in the U.S and the UK. This is due to U.S regulation and the lack of corresponding regulation in the UK.

The key difference is who they can provide legal advice to, and what jurisdictions they can advise on. KPMG LLP (U.S.) for example, cannot claim to provide legal services, whilst ILC LLP (PwC) cannot give advice on U.S. law or advise auditing clients. Despite this, the legal advice that can be given is given in a commercial solutions-oriented approach. The legal aspect of the consultancy work is just one element of a broader solution.

It is this delivery strategy that creates very little difference in the way in which clients are provided with solutions – the content of the legal advice and what it covers is the major differing factor.

So what?

The activities of the Big Four in the legal services market mirrors our vision of the change in how legal services are being provided. Legal advice cannot be provided effectively in isolation from its business context and its business problems. Therefore, the solution must be multifaceted with legal advice being one dimension to the solution given simultaneously to a commercially-viable method to act on the advice. The U.S are cutting-off access for large portions of their commercial market.

The consequence of the U.S’s stance are yet to be fully realised. We will be observing what happens very closely.