Big Four set their sights on the legal services market in Asia

10 August 2018 3 min. read
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As the turf war between the traditional strategy consulting and professional services providers continues to heat up, and together the consulting world fends off counter-punches over its encroachment on the ad-agency realm, the Big Four quartet of advisory behemoths have rapidly opened up a new battle-front: the legal services domain – with Asia host to the opening salvos.

The announcements from ad-land have been coming in thick and fast. In just the past week or so, Omnicom, one the of the world’s largest marketing and communications holding groups with over 80,000 employees worldwide and revenues in excess of $15 billion, picked up its first management and tech consultancy Credera – a firm based out of Texas and Colorado with 300 employees.

The global advertising agency Grey Group, under the WPP umbrella, also last week announced the launch of a consulting line, Grey Consulting, following similar moves by TBWA and Ogilvy and others including R/GA’s consulting services launch in Singapore in just recent months. The prompt – the consulting giants such as Accenture and Deloitte which have turned the full force of their bulk on capturing the advertising domain.

And while the counter-maneuvering from ad-land may bear a faint whiff of futility, it also increasingly strikes as if yesterday’s news, the undercard in the lead up to the new main event: the Big Four goliaths vs. an entrenched and traditionally conservative legal services market in an era of wide-spread disruption – with Asia, it seems, selected as the arena for the first title bout in what will imaginably become a global tour for legal sector supremacy.Big Four set their sights on the legal services market in AsiaThe Big Four combatants will also of course have to contend with one another. In Asia, PwC and EY have been quick out of the blocks – PwC with a recent coup in securing the services of high-profile corporate lawyer Rachel Eng in Singapore, and EY adding Atlas Asia Law Corporation to its legal network – but Deloitte has now fully entered the local fray, this week launching Deloitte Legal International in Singapore.

Already, a recent brand survey by specialist legal research and analysis firm Acritas named PwC Legal, EY and KPMG as the one, two and three on its ‘Asia Pacific Alternative Legal Brand Index’, beating out other legal sector brands such as LexisNexis. Yet, while it’s easy to wonder how long before the Big Four graduate from the alternative brand index to the main board, there are still many peripheral factors yet to play out – including regulatory clampdowns.

“There are serious questions of fair competition and ethics when the Big Four audit most of the Am Law 200 law firms and then directly compete against us for client engagements,” David Tang, Asia managing partner for K&L Gates, told “They know our finances and our financial arrangements with clients; they then compete directly for the same engagements with the same clients and compete on fees, knowing what we have done.”