Immigration law firm Berry Appleman & Leiden is selling its non-U.S. offices to Deloitte Global and entering into an “alliance” with the British arm of the consulting firm, the latest sign that Big Four firms are entering the legal space.
The alliance that begins on July 9 will give BAL access to Deloitte’s global customer base. BAL will remain an independent entity in the U.S. but will sell its non-US operations, which include offices in the UK, Singapore, Australia, Dubai, China, South Africa, Mozambique and Brazil, to Deloitte Global. Deloitte US is not part of the deal, according to BAL.
BAL plans to announce additional expansion in the U.S. later this year, managing partner Jeremy Fudge told Bloomberg Law.
Fudge said the deal grew out of client demands on both BAL and Deloitte for global services, technology innovation, and integrated mobility services that combine expatriate tax and immigration work.
“We both saw with our own respective clients and also within the U.S. market and other markets around the world generally the exact same needs and requests,” Fudge said of the alliance.
“With the increased need for cross-border business travel, global organizations are recognizing the value of a firm that can bring a global footprint to help support the challenges of delivery and corporate compliance,” Kalvinder Dhillon, head of immigration at Deloitte Global, said in a statement.
While legal industry pundits have been predicting a Big Four takeover of the legal services market for several years, BigLaw doesn’t look terribly threatened yet. That said, Deloitte’s partnership with BAL is the latest sign that the accounting firms are still interested in the legal space.
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP has its own branded law firm, and Ernst & Young has a network of law firms.
In an April interview with Bloomberg Law, Jurg Birri, head of KPMG’s legal practice said the firm is considering setting up a legal services set-up similar to EY.
“We are in the process of setting something up in the U.S.,” he said. “It will still take a while but we will definitely come up with a U.S. offering in the next 12 months or so.”
Following the news of the Deloitte-BAL deal, KPMG stressed that “legal services may not be offered to SEC registrant audit clients or where otherwise prohibited by law.” Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, accounting firms are generally barred from providing non-audit services to audit clients.
“We are currently in very close contact with the regulator in the U.S. to figure out what we can do, how much we can do, what kind of services we can provide how we can structure it,” Birri said in April.
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