The Big Four professional services firms are expanding their presence in the global legal services market, new research shows. Deloitte, KPMG, PwC and EY are now taking a share of the work traditional firms usually count on, the research by Thomson Reuters and Said Business School suggests. Revenues from this part of their business have now reached $1.5 billion, a 5% compound annual growth rate from $900m in 2015 and $1.2bn in 2017.

'Even though their growth hasn’t been as fast as some other alternative legal services providers (ALSPs), they still stand to be strong competitors both to independent ALSPs and law firms.' 

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The Big Four are taking a share of the work traditional firms usually count on

The researchers said EY is looking to triple its number of lawyers in the UK and Ireland in the next three years, and PwC is looking to double its legal headcount.

As competitors, the Big Four are showing a more broad-based presence, increasing the likelihood firms will compete with them in multiple service areas. They are most competitive in merger and acquisition due diligence, as 41% of firms that have competed against a Big Four firm noted it was in this service category.

Areas where the Big Four appear to have notably become more competitive in the past two years are litigation and investigation support and contract management and abstraction.

Professor Mari Sako, whose research was the basis of the report, told the Gazette that the Big Four have renewed their presence in the legal services market in the UK since the Legal Services Act, 2007. ’The Big Four started with areas which are closely linked to their core business, assisting clients with the tax compliance and accounting aspect of M&A,’ Sako said. 'As they go further into becoming full service providers for corporate clients, it does make sense to expand their service offering.'

She added that all the Big Four have their own client base from their main business, auditing and accounting. 'This client base is the basis for offering legal services as well. They would find it more difficult to seek a different set of clients.'


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