October 24, 2020

Big Law Firm Takes a Page From Big 4 Player Book

big 4 big law hogan lovells

A couple years ago we talked at length about the Big 4 going after Big Law. Since then we’ve noted the firms talking about the growth of their legal practices, with one PwC bigwig stating his firm’s ambitious goals openly while an EY leader said their threat to law firms is overblown.

As we’ve discussed, it’s not hard to understand why the Big 4 would offer legal work. Several aspects of law and accounting that overlap, so a hypothetical conversation would go like this:

Client: Nice job on this. I wish we could have you do work on this other thing.

Big 4 partner: Oh, we can do that.

Client: You can?

Big 4 partner: Sure, just give us time to poach the right person and we’ll have the job up and running.

And then they lure the person away with a big raise or buy a boutique firm and — shazam — they win more business. It’s a tried and true method that the Big 4 can replicate for almost anything (see also: Digital Services).

For whatever reason, we have never heard about any mega law firms trying this. That is, until today:

Hogan Lovells has started a consulting business for its financial services clients in the U.K. after hiring Steve Murphy from his role as a director at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

Murphy, who is not a lawyer, spent the past nine years as a director at PwC. He was previously a director with rival accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP and a compliance director at British banking giant Barclays plc.

At Hogan Lovells, Murphy […] will be a director and head of the firm’s financial services regulatory consulting arm, a new practice that will offer both legal and consulting services for clients’ regulatory strategy and compliance needs.

“We are not aware of any other law firm in the U.K. offering this combination of legal and consulting capabilities for financial services companies,” says a Hogan Lovells partner, and, yeah, us either, so I guess that’s nice for Hogan Lovells. There’s probably around four accounting firms that offer it, though.

Plus, law firms are sorta outmatched when it comes to dipping a toe into non-traditional services. A Big 4 firm will throw $1 billion at its brother-in-law’s stupid restaurant idea just to see if it sticks. That’s almost all of Hogan Lovells’s revenue for last year! I’m sure the Big 4 legal shops think this is adorable.

But good for them anyway. It’s about time a law firm did something interesting.

[The American Lawyer]

Image: iStock/AndreyPopov

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