find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
Big Four player poses new threat to law firms

Big Four player poses new threat to law firms

David Morris

KPMG is growing its legal arm beyond tax, threatening to become a major player in the legal services market.

Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, Jeremy Geale, the head of KPMG’s tax controversy team, said the Big Four firm is boosting the range of legal services it will offer its extensive list of existing clients.

“The firm is very focused on growth,” Mr Geale said. “KPMG today is not an accounting firm, we are a professional services firm.”

KPMG Legal initially will focus on developing its corporate, employment and property practices. It also plans to pick up offshore work via referrals from its European practices and from foreign corporates looking to enter the Australian market.

The firm’s growth plans called for an experienced head of legal, Mr Geale said.

Lawyers Weekly exclusively revealed in April David Morris (pictured), the joint head of corporate (Asia Pacific) at DLA Piper, had been recruited by KPMG to lead its legal arm.

Mr Morris said client demand was growing for a full-service professional services firm with a broad legal offering.

“I don’t see that demand reducing in the future,” he said.

Mr Morris added that he expects to recruit lawyers to meet this demand, but would not be drawn on how many partners or lawyers he wanted to bring on board.

In taking the position with KPMG, Mr Morris brought across former DLA senior associate Michelle Monteleone, who now holds the title of special counsel.

This is Mr Morris’ second stint with KPMG. He was a partner in KPMG Legal’s corporate and securities practice from November 1996 to May 2004.

In 2004 Middletons (now K&L Gates) recruited Mr Morris and five other partners after KPMG Legal ceased trading under the banner of the Big Four firm. The decision was a reaction to the Enron scandal in 2001, which placed the audit-independence of accounting firms under scrutiny and resulted in the enactment of US legislation restricting the provision of non-audit services to audit clients.

Mr Morris said he supported the decision at the time, but the firm’s concerns no longer applied in today’s multi-disciplinary practice (MDP) environment, with the MDP model transformed to account for conflict of interest issues.

In October last year, KPMG was awarded an alternative business structure licence by the UK Solicitors’ Regulation Authority, allowing the firm to operate on a MDP basis.

That same month, KPMG in Australia recruited Maddocks partner Angela Wood and two senior lawyers from the national firm’s tax controversy team.

KPMG’s expansion strategy follows a similar push into the legal services market by PwC last year.

In August 2014, former King & Wood Mallesons managing partners Tony O’Malley and Tim Blue joined PwC to build what it termed as a “premium multi-competency legal practice globally”, targeting annual legal services revenue in Australia of more than $100 million.

Mr Morris would not speculate on revenue expectations for KPMG Legal.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Big Four player poses new threat to law firms
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
LCA president Fiona McLeod SC
Aug 17 2017
Where social fault lines meet the justice gap in Aus
After just returning from a tour of the Northern Territory, LCA president Fiona McLeod SC speaks wit...
Marriage equality flag
Aug 17 2017
ALHR backs High Court challenge to marriage equality postal vote
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has voiced its support for a constitutional challenge to ...
Give advice
Aug 17 2017
A-G issues advice on judiciary’s public presence
Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis QC has offered his advice on the public presence of jud...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...