PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has become the first of the ‘big four’ accountants to become an alternative business structure (ABS), it announced today.
The licence from the Solicitors Regulation Authority means that it can become an owner of, and investor in, PwC Legal, a separate legal firm within the PwC network of member firms.
PwC Legal, which has more than 200 fee-earners, claims an extensive client base across the FTSE200, banks, funds and other financial institutions, middle-market companies, large private businesses and high net-worth individuals. It is part of a global network that employs over 2,400 lawyers in 80 countries.
Shirley Brookes, senior partner of PwC Legal, said: “This marks an important step for PwC Legal, supports our ambitions to further invest in people and skills, and underpins the focus of both firms on delivering value and quality to clients through strong relationships.”
Margaret Cole, PwC’s general counsel, added: “This development reflects our shared aim to provide high-value services to clients, underpinned by our commitment to quality.”
Crispin Passmore, SRA executive director of policy, described the authorisation of PwC Legal as “another example of the innovative changes taking place in the legal market”.
He said: “Nearly two years on from the first ABS licensed by the SRA, we are seeing further increased diversity in the supply of legal services, and that provides consumers with greater choice.
“Throughout 2014, we expect to see further change as more businesses take advantage of the liberalisation to innovate and grow the legal market, be it through increased exports of corporate legal services, improving access and affordability for small business, or helping individual consumers solve the problems of day-to-day life.”