Professional Services Consultant Patrick J. McKenna Warns the Legal Profession: “The Big Four are Coming for You”


The Point

EY Law, the law practice division of the Big Four accounting firm Ernst & Young, has just announced (subscription required) that it’s adding up to 800 lawyers in the next 3 years.

Patrick McKenna identifies the Big Four’s chief advantage in law practice over law firms: “A strong industry focus“.

This Matters to Your Business

Patrick McKenna’s competitive diagnosis:

“One of the major problems is that law firms and lawyers DO NOT UNDERSTAND the intricacies of industries.”

“… Industry becomes highly relevant as it becomes a proxy for understanding many aspects of your client’s business such as: industry terminology; kinds of products and services offered; industry specific revenue sources and revenue recognition issues; common contractual terms; industry specific laws and regulations; typical business practices; types of talent employed; technologies used; and supply chain structure and practices.”

Because …

A lawyer can’t be truly client-centered if they’re fuzzy on industry specifics:

Heather Suttie, a consultant to law firms, agrees:

“Clients don’t care about your [attorneys’] practice; they care about their industry.

“Accountants focus on industries, which is client-centered. Lawyers focus on practice, which is self-centered. So, is it any wonder the Big Four are 30 years ahead in the professional services market that includes law and always has?”

The legal profession’s tendency to organize itself primarily around legal doctrine and procedures — rather than specific industries —  is one reason attorneys too often fail to understand client businesses.

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