UK audit and services firm KPMG is continuing its bid to become one of those ominous firms in spy films that seem to have their fingers in every pie and eventually turn out to be plotting world domination by recruiting a new legal team.
It has moved to hire a number of new corporate in-house lawyers for its Manchester office as it considers the possibility of using an alternative business structure (ABS) conversion to expand its legal services offering, reports Legal Week.
While the north-west would undeniably be a terrible setting for a glamorous tale of corporate espionage - James Bond eats a pastie! James Bond tries to parallel park but finds his view obscured by the heavy rain! James Bond suavely samples some local ale! - it does appear that KPMG is looking to extend its operation.
One senior partner in Manchester said: "I suspect KPMG won't be in the market to compete on the high street, but [this new operation] would instead act as an internal team to advise large groups for which it would normally use top-end law firms."
This follows the company's expensive decision to sever ties with its international legal network KLegal, which was an early attempt from KPMG to break into the potentially lucrative world of international law.
It split with the 3,000-strong law group in 2003, citing the regulatory shackles introduced by the introduction of the US Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002.
However, acquiring an ABS licence would once again allow KPMG to enter into British legal service provision, joining other major UK firms such as the Co-Op in doing so. It already offers legal advice in countries including Spain, Canada, Belarus and Estonia.
In a statement, the audit company pointed out that many non-practising solicitors are already part of its tax teams across the UK.
KPMG's rival organisation PricewaterhouseCoopers operates a separate legal arm offering a range of services across the industry, highlighting one direction in which the firm could go.