Two former managing partners at a Big Six firm in Australia have been appointed to spearhead the legal growth agenda there: One tells us why New Zealand may be next
Tony O’Malley and Tim Blue are set to lead the firm’s legal practice in Australia and across the Pacific, and will aid PwC in its goal to build a multi-competency legal practice globally, with a targeted annual legal services revenue of $100 million plus.
O’Malley, who was King & Wood Mallesons’ managing partner Australia and its deputy global managing partner until last year, told NZ Lawyer that the growth agenda is sure to heat up competition in the Australian market.
“Competition in the legal services market is already fierce and all firms are under intense pressure to continually deliver better value for clients. There is plenty of room in the Australian market for us to co-exist with the big firms and in fact for us to work with each other in areas where we do not compete,” he says.
“What will differentiate PwC is our ability to develop a highly integrated offering and I expect this will maintain pressure on the large firms to innovate in respect of their own offerings - which is all good news for clients.”
PWC have big plans, and a growth agenda in Australia is just the beginning.
O’Malley says the team Down Under will be working closely with the broader PwC network to support the development of complimentary practices in key regional markets, adding: “We are sure this will include looking at NZ.”
PwC’s move to build the corporate advisory practice is significant, and plays a key part of the global firm’s aspiration to break into the top 20 legal firm, he says, confirming that the team is actively looking to recruit more legal talent.
“Our target is to have in place a high quality team of approximately 20-25 partners in the key focus areas by 2017…Some of this will be organic growth some of it will be through lateral hires. What is important is that partners coming into the team have the market standing to generate and hold work from key clients while at the same time they are able to work across PwC in an integrated way.”
Now is a key time to enter the market because the changing landscape in the profession in recent years has seen clients increasingly willing to try new providers, and no longer seeking legal services from only a small handful of firms, says O’Malley.
Because price is no longer driving growth, many of the law firms have responded to these challenges through equity and cost reduction.
“[This] has often stabilised results but placed greater strain on the traditional loyalties between partners and their firms and leaves open the question as to how growth will be achieved. A focus on a new type of integrated offering in a growth context should appeal to both clients and practitioners.”
O’Malley says until now no one has created a truly global platform in the legal profession, but he believes PwC “has a real opportunity to do this”.
He will also be joining the network’s global legal services board.
The other lawyer set to spearhead the Australian growth, Tim Blue, was a former managing partner at King & Wood Malleson’s, responsible for the firm’s corporate M&A and tax practices. He’s held various other leadership and governance positions there, including managing partner, international.
He will join PwC as a partner, deputising for O’Malley in his leadership roles and heading the firm’s corporate and legal practice.