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KPMG to expand legal services

Posted by: Laurence Simons 07/10/14

Accounting firm KPMG has revealed it has been successful in gaining an Alternative Business Structure (ABS) licence from the UK Solicitors' Regulation Authority. It means the company will be able to add legal services to its existing portfolio of offerings, which it says will be "complementary" to its current business.

That is a significant pledge, as there are other accountancy firms that have been granted ABS licences and have used them to develop legal services whose functions and client base are outside their current workload.
Emphasising this point, the company's UK chairman Simon Collins said: "To be clear, we have absolutely no plans to develop any kind of standalone legal practice. The new regulatory regime, designed to open up the provision of professional services across the sector, allows us to extend our legal services provision where we have a proven and successful track record."

Having qualified lawyers on the payroll will not be anything new for the company, as it has had non-practising solicitors working in its tax and pensions divisions for the last decade. This fact was noted by executive director Richard Collins, who said the idea is to create a "one-stop shop" for clients of the kind the Legal Services Act was designed to create.

In addition, he noted there are 50 lawyers and immigration specialists in the existing legal services team.
Gary Harley, who is one of four partners in the legal services team and is heading up its expansion, said the firm is in "recruitment mode", having already hired some "highly regarded lawyers". He said KPMG is also attracting candidates of "exceptionally high quality".

If other professional services teams follow suit, there could be a significant growth in openings for lawyers who are keen to work in areas like tax, accountancy and pensions.

Rival professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers gained an ABS licence for its own legal services division in January this year, but, unlike KPMG, its caseload includes work that is independent of the rest of the business.