Accountancy giant EY has been given the go-ahead to offer legal services in the UK as it expands its global law offering.

EY is the third of the ‘big four’ accountancy firms to be granted an alternative business structure licence by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The moves allows the firm to grow its global law practice, which already has more than 1,100 people in 60 locations.

In the last year, it has created legal teams in Mexico, Costa Rica, Singapore, China, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand. It expects to have a legal presence in more than 80 jurisdictions by 2017. 

EY will become an integrated multidisciplinary practice providing corporate, commercial, employment and financial services legal advice alongside its existing services.

UK chairman Steve Varley (pictured) said: ‘We aren’t competing with the business models of traditional law firms. We are offering something new.

‘By working closely with other parts of the organisation, clients will benefit from our global scale, in-depth industry knowledge as well as having a single point of contact for all of their professional service needs.

‘Whether advising on large transactions, employment structures or group reorganisation projects, having lawyers, accountants and other professional advisers working side by side will be a real advantage to our clients and ultimately help us to provide a better level of service.’

The firm has already appointed three UK partners. Addleshaw Goddard’s former head of corporate Philip Goodstone will lead the team.

Matthew Kellett, who was head of banking and capital markets at BLP, will be in charge of financial services. Dan Aherne, head of the Employment Group at Olswang, will build and lead the employment law team.

A further 30 people will be recruited over the next six months.

EY follows in the footsteps of PwC Legal and KPMG, which were both granted ABS licences this year. Deloitte told the Gazette in September it had no plans to go down the ABS route.