Wake Up Call: As Big Four Enter Legal Profession, Some Law Firms Push Back, in Tax

June 5, 2019, 11:53 AM
  • As Big Four accounting groups--Deloitte, EY, KPMG, and PwC--aggressively expand into legal services, many U.K. lawyers say they fear they will struggle to compete. (Bloomberg Tax via BLB) For now, the Big Four is barred from making a big entry into the U.S. legal market, but that could change. (BLB)
  • On the flip side, some Big Law firms are pushing into the Big Four’s turf. Encouraged by recent global tax reforms, countries are increasing scrutiny of how multinational corporations shift their profits among subsidiaries to lower, sometimes drastically, their tax bills. Big Four firms have tended to dominate in the area of transfer pricing advice, which addresses how multinational groups price goods and services exchanged between units. But, seeing room to compete, major law firms including Hogan Lovells and DLA Piper, have recently expanded their own transfer pricing teams. (American Lawyer)
  • Meanwhile, speakers at a recent ABA conference said lawyers’ lack of fundamental understanding of new legal technologies will soon put them at a competitive disadvantage if they don’t change their ways. (BLAW via BLB)
  • Attorneys who represented consumers in the Volkswagen AG “clean diesel” litigation before class counsel were officially appointed want the U.S. Supreme Court to wade into their fight, so far unsuccessful, to get a cut of the $175 million attorneys’ fee award. (BLAW)
  • Manhattan-based Axa Equitable Life Insurance Co. promoted in-house attorney Kermitt Brooks to replace the company’s current top lawyer, Dave Hattem. Hattem, a former New York federal prosecutor who’s been at the company for 25 years, becomes chief legal officer at parent company AXA Equitable Holdings Inc. (Corporate Counsel)
  • Lowenstein Sandler hired senior business managers away from three rival firms, the latest firm to boost the prominence of business marketing and innovation in its management strategy. The New Jersey-headquartered firm said Victor Barkalov is its new chief innovation and information officer, arriving from Jackson Lewis; Kevin Iredell, chief marketing officer, arrives from Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. Earlier this spring, the firm hired Mikhail Makarovsky as its first director of pricing & profitability, getting him from Norton Rose Fulbright. (Lowenstein.com)
  • Legal tech pros and other observers reacted to France’s controversial new law barring companies focused on litigation prediction and analytics from publishing analytical information on specific judges’ court decisions. (Artificial Lawyer)
  • Sheppard Mullin is the latest big firm to start a cannabis industry practice. (BLAW via BLB)
  • Loeb & Loeb hired longtime Shearman & Sterling real estate lawyer Peter A. Strauss as a partner in the firm’s New York office. (Loeb.com)
  • Judge Rossie Alston Jr., who’s received support from Democrats and Republicans at different points in his long legal career, could soon win confirmation to one of the nation’s highest-profile federal courts as only the second black Trump judicial appointee. At 62, he’s older than most Trump judicial picks and has been known for his practice at times of creative sentencing. (BLAW)

Lawyers, Law Firms, Deals

  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer assigned New York-based partner Timothy Wilkins to a new role of global partner for client sustainability, in which he’ll lead a team of attorneys across the London-based firm’s practice groups and offices. (American Lawyer)
  • The Times recently profiled Legal Aid Society lawyers who are public defenders during business hours but have to have second jobs, as Uber drivers, bar tenders, teachers, etc, to be able to pay their own bills. (NYT)
  • Shearman & Sterling said a team of its London, Paris, and New York-based attorneys advised Morgan Stanley Senior Funding, Inc. on a recent amendment to existing $1.34 billion financing of Netherlands-based Sensata Technologies B.V. and Sensata Technologies Finance Company, LLC. (Global Legal Chronicle)

Laterals, Moves, Promotions

  • Michael Best added two lawyers to its real estate practice group in Milwaukee, getting partners Roy E. Wagner and Lauren A. Triebenbach from local firm von Briesen & Roper. Wagner will also serve as leader of Michael Best’s construction and construction litigation team, similar to his role at his previous firm. Triebenbach was shareholder in von Briesen & Roper’s construction and real estate and banking sections. (MichaelBest.com)
  • K&L Gates added Fox Rothschild worklaw litigator David J. Garraux as a partner in Pittsburgh, in its labor, employment and workplace safety practice. (KLGates.com)
  • Workplace law firm Jackson Lewis said employee benefits and executive compensation attorney Miriam R. Schindel joined the firm’s White Plains, New York, office as a principal. Schindel, most recently a partner at Hinman, Howard, & Kattell, has also served as deputy general counsel at Unilever and associate GC at Sears & Roebuck. (JacksonLewis.com)
  • Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough hired Ernst & Young corporate tax and real estate finance attorney Sabrina Conyers as a partner in Charlotte, North Carolina. (NelsonMullins.com)
  • Barnes & Thornburg added corporate and financial transactions attorney Anthony Arnold as a partner in San Diego. Arnold was previously an executive at private equity fund Oaktree Capital Management, spent about 19 months at O’Melveny & Myers, and most recently was a shareholder at Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth. (BTLaw.com)

Legal Actions, Bankruptcies, Decisions

  • Federal appeals court judges may agree with a group of kids that the government hasn’t done enough to address climate change, but they’re not sure if the courts can step in to force broad action. (Bloomberg Environment)


  • The U.K.'s Law Society is calling for “urgent” oversight of police forces’ use of technologies such as predictive policing, facial recognition technology and digital forensics, warning they could threaten rights and freedoms of individuals. (Financial Times)


Legal Education

  • As at least three teenagers are set start to law school this fall, Law.com talked to Aaron Parnas, who started George Washington University Law School at 18 and is now a 20-year-old summer associate. (Law.com)

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at rMitchell@correspondent.bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Molly Ward at mward@bloomberglaw.com

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