The lines between the law and accounting fields are blurring as more and more accounting firms begin incorporating legal departments to meet changing client demands.
Up until currently, accounting firms have looked to complement their existing services by moving into very niche fields of law to offer related legal aid and offer a more all-encompassing service.
Leader of policy and thought leadership, Geraldine Magarey of Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand believes we will see this expanded on in the future with more accounting firms adding legal departments and widening the scope of legal services to include more than just niche-related fields of law.
“I think the firms are starting to ramp up and some of the firms who haven’t been involved are now getting involved. But I still think at the moment it's going to be in those service lines that are at the margin, not into the traditional areas of the law firm… I really just see it as the profession continuing to evolve and those initial things it was built on are still very important but with the global nature of clients and also as a lot of the technical areas mould together, people look for an overall service”, Ms Magarey predicts.
She believes accounting firms will continue keeping a close eye on changing client demands to discover which legal services are in-demand so the firms can tailor and equip their departments accordingly in line with changing expectations.
For the moment it is the large accounting firms which are adding legal services to their repertoire (as they have the budget and resources to do so). These firms are also the ones looking to capitalise on this trend by moving into legal services in a big way in the future. If this eventuates they may stand a chance of giving established law firms a run for their clientele when it comes to legal issues which overlap with accounting.
“To remain viable, it’s clear that Australian practices need to diversify from traditional services, such as tax, and provide additional and complimentary services that will provide real value to their clients and give them a point of difference from their competitors,” points out Paul Jansz, AMMA Private Equity CEO.