Accounting firms have been hiring lawyers for years. In the United States, however, lawyers and accountants are not allowed to share a practice, offering both legal and accounting services out of the same office. Outside of the United States it's a different story. Accounting firms in much of the rest of the world provide legal services to clients. Big Five firms have legal practices in other countries; indeed Andersen's legal arm recently took top 10 honors in this year's rankings of the top global law firms.
The American Bar Association is considering softening restrictions for co-mingling of legal and accounting services, and an early sign of such acceptance was reported earlier this week with the opening of Ernst & Young's affiliated legal practice in New York City. The New York State Bar recently ruled that American law firms and accountants are allowed to have a "side-by-side" alliance.
KPMG is positioning itself to make a similar move, with plans to expand its KLegal practice into New York City. KLegal hopes to open an office in New York City that will provide a liaison between the firm's European lawyers and its U.S. referral firms.
KLegal has referral links for tax services with California law firm Morrison & Foerster as well as Chicago firm Horwood Marcus & Berk.