What you need to know about… PwC Legal
June 17, 2022
4 min read
An intro to the firm
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is one of the top four accounting firms in the world, commonly referred to as the “Big Four”. It was created as a result of a merger between Price Waterhouse and Coopers and Lybrand in 1998. In the 1990s, PwC managed its legal obligations through a network of nearly 20 international law firms to reference its work. In 2000, post the expensive rebranding of PwC, all the affiliated firms came to be collectively known as Landwell. Subsequently, in 2006, it morphed into PwC Legal, the current legal arm of the firm.
In the UK, using the “Alternative Business Structure” (ABS), the Legal Services Act, 2007, allowed accountancy firms to own law firms (and vice-versa). After receiving its ABS licence in January 2014, PwC UK Legal was absorbed into PwC on October 1, 2016.
The firm only exclusively offers training contracts to its vacation scheme participants. Nearly 25 contracts are offered by the firm each year, ensuring the well-rounded development of the compact cohort. During the training period, trainees are rotated through four seats for six months each. Additionally, training includes special programmes on business development and networking, management and interpersonal skills. In 3 words, PwC legal is innovative, multi-disciplinary and truly international.
Its key strengths
The firm’s main legal global practice areas are immigration law, enterprise governance and compliance, employment and labour, international business reorganisation and mid-tier M&A. Within the UK, the firm has a strong presence in the cyber & data services, financial services, tax litigation and technology.
Leveraging the reputed PwC brand, the legal arm has brought in innovative services to its clients. Its upper hand and expertise in a technology-driven approach make the firm unique and stand out amongst its competitors.
Spread across more than 120 specialists across London and Belfast, the immigration law practice at PwC Legal is ranked as Tier 1 by the Legal 500. Immigration practice at the firm usually includes advising on business travel, visa complication and effects on travelling due to major events such as the Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, the practice group developed an online dashboard allowing real-time access to clients for relevant information on the status of international travellers.
Because of PwC’s global presence, the firm’s dedicated international business reorganisation practice is placed as Tier 1 in the Legal 500 firm profiles. Its expertise in multi-jurisdictional work allows enhanced interpretation of complex reorganisation priorities. The firm maintains a high-profile client roster, including the likes of BP, Tesco and Fujitsu. Notably, it advised Blackstone Group, an alternative investment management company in the US, on a corporate simplification process during the unwinding of its legacy portfolio structures.
Training, training, training...
The training at PwC is technologically-driven, pragmatic and hands-on.
As is consistent with its business model, PwC Legal generally seeks lawyers with expertise in their traditional strengths achieved through audit, consultancy, finance and tax. Applicants must portray the key PwC professional attributes of “whole leadership, business acumen, technical capabilities, global acumen and relationships” to have a successful application. Given PwC’s size (743 offices across 156 countries), the work allotted to trainees can vary widely, as is required in a business of such scale.
As an accountancy firm, a tax seat is usually more common than not for almost all trainees at the firm. Working closely with the non-legal teams at PwC enables trainees to gather a holistic view of the strategic and commercial elements alongside the legal side of things. In 2016, the legal practice of the firm managed to establish itself among the top 100 City law firms in terms of revenue, bringing in around £60 m.
Due to the intake of only a small cohort of trainees each year, training at the firm is quite hands-on, assuring heavy exposure to clients. Trainees are expected to handle critical matters as independently as possible but appropriate supervision is always provided. Work/life balance at the firm is comparatively much better than at traditional law firms in the City, where working days generally end between 6 to 7 pm. The firm invests heavily in legal tech, which has increased convenience for employees and clients alike. PwC UK’s document automation solution called “My Structuring Lawyer” codifies the firm’s legal expertise into software logic. It has allowed the firm to make a seamless transition to remote working, responsible for its renowned flexible working policy.
PwC Legal LLP is perfect for individuals looking to attain international and multi-jurisdictional exposure. Applicants often hold an incorrect perspective that lawyers at PwC’s legal arm are in-house lawyers. Being a multi-disciplinary practice, providing a whole range of services as opposed to a standalone law firm, the firm instead produces integrated solutions for clients. As a result, it distinguishes itself as a one-stop-shop for professional services, providing clients with expertise wherever the need arises.
Report written by Shasank Konger
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