Businesses May Have Alternatives to Status Quo in Legal Services — Recent Moves by The Big 4 in the U.S. (Part 4 of 4)

With this post I conclude a 4-part analysis of positive alternatives to the status quo in legal services presented by the Big 4 accounting firms to U.S. businesses.

In Part 1 I addressed survey results from law firms in which 69% of responding law firm leaders reported that “partners [in law firms] resist most change efforts”.

The reason? 59% of responding law firm leaders stated that their partners “resist most change efforts” in the way they deliver services to clients, because:

“We are not feeling enough economic pain to motivate more significant change.”

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Businesses — speaking through 55% of chief legal officers surveyed — reported that they don’t negotiate better price and terms of service with their law firms because they:

“Believe that they do not have enough buying power to negotiate more effectively.”

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The fact that law firms report such complacency and that businesses feel stuck which what law firms are giving them prompts a question: Are there any good alternative sources of legal services available to U.S. businesses?

In Part 2 I addressed offerings of the Big 4 accounting firms to U.S. business through the perspective of Lucy Endel Bassli, formerly Assistant General Counsel of Microsoft. And in Part 3 I set forth the first 5 of her 10 observations about what those Big 4 accounting firms do differently — or just better — than other sources of legal services.

With this post I present the rest of Ms. Bassli’s 10 observations about what the Big 4 accounting firms have to offer U.S. business:

“6. Scale — The Big 4 have presence in almost every country where there is business conducted by multi-nationals. They can reach a scale that few other providers can compare with. They seem to have connections to experts on every topic of interest to their corporate clients, whether internally within their own employee base, or within an intricate and powerful network of related entities and affiliates.”

“7. Quality and Reputation — There is an undeniable trust that comes with the Big 4, which is why so many large corporations choose to use them for broad ranges of services. That umbrella of trust seems to cover all the work they do, even in areas that are new to these providers. There is history of high quality, and there are widely accepted expectations of continued quality work from the Big 4. There is little doubt or uncertainty in their ability to deliver on their promises.”

“8. Technology — The Big 4 know how to invest in technology. They have sizeable R&D departments and are comfortable setting aside resources for the benefit of their future. They have been around a long time and continue to evolve by keeping up with technology advances. They are certainly interested in legal tech, and with their ability to scale and investment resources, will have an easy time catching up to anything that is leading the market, and likely become the industry leader themselves. Those are baskets that many clients would be comfortable placing their eggs in!”

“9. Predicable Pricing — These are not low-cost service providers, but neither are law firms. One thing the Big 4 has, however, is predictability on pricing. Long gone are their days of pricing by the hour (at least in the Big 4’s world), and instead fixed fees based on the project scope are the norm. More importantly, the Big 4 are accustomed to helping clients define the scope of work during the process and will adjust their pricing accordingly.”

“10. Sheer Size and Locations — The Big 4 have what seems to be an unlimited number of people located in the most remote corners of the world. It feels like there is no place in the world where they don’t have a presence and no end to the availability of people to put on the task. There is nothing more frustrating than hearing from a service provider that they don’t have the people available when you need them. The Big 4 always have people available.”

 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3