The Accountants are Back!

Recent developments indicate that accounting firms such as KPMG are looking at getting back into the legal industry after an absence of over ten years. See articles here and here. Accounting firms had to get out of the legal services business back when the Sorbanes-Oxley Act came into effect in 2002 due to conflicts with their management consulting, audit and legal services businesses.

With the ABS regulatory changes now well underway in the UK, accounting firms are looking closely at the legal industry again.  Accounting firms are well ahead of law firms on the business management and marketing fronts, and will be formidable opponents to law firms if they commit their resources to a full-scale re-entry to the legal industry.  And that’s what they appear to be preparing for in the UK. I fully expect the global accounting giants to make a big push into the legal industry in the near future, and smart law firms will team up with the accountants to provide global business advisory services unmatched in the world today. Some global accounting firms will move back into the legal sector again in a big way by merging with mid-tier and large law firms in ABS structures to gain legal market share quickly.

I also see many opportunities for small and midsize law firms to team up with accountants to provide trusted business advisory services not being offered today.

What Strategies Should Law Firms Be Focusing On Now?

I would suggest one simple killer strategy that firms should being doing already, which is even more critical during tough economic times. Interview all your top clients and find out what issues are “keeping them up at night”. Then help your clients focus on these issues and resolve them. They’ll thank you for it with more work and market share. This strategy will also help you avoid losing your top clients to other hungry firms approaching them during this period.

Tough times like these lead to many opportunities for smart firms. Another great strategy is to pick up star partners from your competitors in lucrative practice areas you want to grow. These folks are available now since it’s slow, and not normally available in regular economic times. When the economy returns, your new star partners will help your firm dominate your market space and greatly enhance future profitability.