In further signs of the potential threat posed by the ‘big four’ accountancy giants to traditional law firms, EY has announced the recruitment of three international legal heavyweights to strengthen its global presence.

EY was granted an alternative business structure licence in 2014 to offer legal services in England and Wales. However, EY global law leader Cornelius Grossmann (pictured) said new legislation and compliance measures ‘demand that we provide more expansive legal services globally’.

Paola Bruzzone, former general counsel at Falabella, the largest South American department store, will lead EY’s newly established legal services group in Chile, initially focusing on corporate and commercial, M&A, and employment law.

Jorge Garnier, former White & Case international attorney and general counsel for Argentinian energy company Genneia, will build a new team focusing on corporate law services in Argentina.

Former Norton Rose Fulbright partner Anthony Kramreither will lead EY Law’s business team in Canada, strengthening the firm’s expanding transaction law practice.

The north American country appears to be fertile ground for the accountancy firms. Earlier this year Deloitte, the only one of the ’big four’ not to create an ABS in the UK, announced the formation of a new legal business in Canada called Deloitte Conduit Law LLP, having acquired an existing law firm in Toronto.

The ability for the accountancy giants to attract heavyweights also suggests the accountancy giants pose recruitment and retention threats to private practice.

This month PwC Legal announced that it had appointed Laetitia Costa to head its banking and finance team. Costa, who was a partner at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy in London, spent seven years at magic circle firm Clifford Chance, and has also worked for Allen & Overy, Ashurst and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Earlier this year, David Farmer joined PwC Legal’s pensions team from DLA Piper while Thomas Colmer, who has specialised in domestic and cross border M&As for more than 16 years, joined from Osborne Clarke.