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Deloitte to become last 'big four' audit firm to launch legal services

Accountancy and audit practice Deloitte is set to become the last of the 'big four' audit firms to branch out into the provision of legal services, reports The Lawyer.

Deloitte has announced that it will engage a new chief of its Deloitte Legal division in a bid to draw up an action plan to launch legal services into the UK market in the near future.

The Lawyer reports that Piet Hein Meeter, the Amsterdam-based global managing director of Deloitte Legal appointed on 1 June 2014 has announced that growing his network into the UK market was a priority.

The audit and accountancy industry in the UK is dominated by the 'big four' of PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and EY. PwC Legal is the standalone legal business part owned by PwC, whilst EY and KPMG have decided to build up their internal legal service provision.

It is not clear yet which corporate model Deloitte will choose.

Deloitte's existing legal services provision already has a vast network of over 1,300 lawyers operating in 56 countries, predominantly in Asia and the Americas.

"There's a definite need for scale and true global coverage. That will be one of my main focus areas for my term. The UK is definitely on the list and then some other things," said Mr Meeter, as quoted in The Lawyer.

It is not the first time that the big four have attacked the legal services market; however, the previous attempt around a decade ago was halted after the demise of firm Arthur Andersen in the wake of the Enron crisis.

It is understood that market conditions are now far more favourable for new entrants into the legal services market after the enactment of Alternative Business Structures (ABS), which for the first time allow non-lawyers to operate legal services businesses.