KPMG’s global legal services business last year boosted its revenue by more than 30 percent, making it a record year for growth in the business, the Big Four firm said Wednesday.
Events in 2019 show KPMG's legal services business is investing in further growth now. It opened a Hong Kong office last month, plans to launch of an office in Shanghai, announced plans this week for a legal consulting business in the U.K. and, according to reports, hired roughly 130 lawyers in France from one of the country’s largest law firms.
The mass hire from French law firm Fidal included lawyers handling tax, transfer pricing and international mobility specialists, according to The Global Legal Post. Fidal has 1,450 lawyers and 90 offices in France, a report from Les Echos said. The French publication also quoted Fidal president Yves de Sevin as saying the raid on Fidal was "unacceptable," and in violation of agreements the firm held with KPMG, with which it previously had a long-standing partnership agreement. He also called it "a coup by auditors against the legal profession," Les Echos said.
KPMG has not released total revenue figures for its legal arm. A representative for KPMG was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.
KPMG now has more than 2,300 legal professionals in 76 countries. LegalWeek, Law.com's U.K. affiliate, reported in November that the firm has set a goal of more than 3,000 lawyers within the next few years.
The U.K. legal operations consulting offering KPMG announced this week, branded KPMG Legal Operations and Transformation Services, will provide technology, flexible resources and managed services support for legal departments. That business line will compete with the likes of Elevate Services and UnitedLex.
“As our 2018 results demonstrate, this integrated approach to addressing legal challenges is in high demand,” Jürg Birri, KPMG’s global head of legal services, said in a statement. “We expect continued growth in 2019 as we eagerly meet the evolving needs of clients across the globe, including high-growth markets like China.”
While KPMG has not disclosed its revenue for its legal arm, a recent report from Thomson Reuters estimated the revenue of the Big Four’s cumulative legal services businesses at $1.2 billion in 2017. That number was up from $900 million in 2015. The American Lawyer reported in November that many Big Law firm leaders expect the Big Four to continue to push higher up the value chain in legal services offerings, even if their ambitions in the U.S. are somewhat restricted by bar rules against nonlawyer ownership of law firms.
“Our approach is different. We’re not a traditional law firm, and we’re not copying the approach of a traditional law firm,” KPMG’s Birri said in a statement. “We focus on offering our clients integrated legal advice and technology led solutions and methodologies, in combination with a range of alternative legal managed services, where we work collectively with our clients who are looking for local and multijurisdictional counsel.”