PwC and Microsoft are aiming their new legal and “tax tech” accelerator program at what they say is an underserved market—Spanish companies with unique, localized needs.
“They have original needs, including the need for solutions that are specific to the local markets,” Patricia Manca Diaz, a partner with PwC’s tax and legal services division in Madrid, told Bloomberg Law Monday.
The Tax & Legal Tech Springboard is PwC’s second program to assist legal tech-focused companies in their growth. Its Scale | Law Tech program, based in London, began operation last May.
The new program is unusual in its inclusion of tax-related technologies and in that it’s largely focused on markets in Spain and Latin America.
It takes root as the Big Four, which also includes KPMG, EY, and Deloitte, have rapidly been bolstering their legal divisions’ reach—and by doing so, competing more often with the largest American law firms as providers of tech solutions for corporate clients. Along with several U.K. law firms, the Big Four also are often out in front as they build relationships with small-but-promising legal tech companies, in efforts to grow their innovation-forward appeal to existing and potential corporate clients.
The Springboard program is designed to mentor startup and other early stage company executives. It is aimed at the Spanish market, though not exclusively, said Diaz.
“The idea is to promote innovation,” said Diaz. “We’re excited to be able to provide several benefits to the companies that participate.”
Diaz said the program will not have a U.S. component. Though she said she has followed regulatory reform efforts in states like Arizona and Utah to allow for nonlawyer co-ownership of legal services operations, the Springboard program isn’t planning to participate in those deregulation efforts.
“That will not be the purpose of the program,” she said.
Microsoft couldn’t be reached for comment on the new accelerator.
PwC is not the only member of the Big Four to create a program to reach young companies.
In December of 2019, Deloitte Legal launched a program designed to drive early-stage legal tech companies, in part by allowing it to use the companies’ products and services from their earliest stages to help with testing and scaling.
Several prominent U.K. law firms, like the Big Four, have also developed legal tech incubators and accelerators over the last several years, including Allen & Overy, Slaughter and May, and Clifford Chance.
Relatively few American firms operate accelerator programs that support outside companies, though a couple, like Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, have homegrown tech arms that market tools to clients.
Some in Big Law, like Latham & Watkins, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, and Baker McKenzie, have set up their own venture capital operations by making equity investments in legal tech operations.