The world’s biggest accounting companies are getting serious about competing with law firms in Singapore. In the past month, Deloitte was revealed to have registered a foreign law practice in the city and PwC and EY both announced the launch of local law practices.

Deloitte first registered its Singapore entity in April, according to, and will be managed by Rashed Idrees, previously head of the company’s Thai legal unit and a former DFDL partner. The Singapore firm will join Deloitte’s existing legal presence in Asia, which comprises offices in Australia, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

On its website, Deloitte’s legal arm says that it “provides holistic guidance around strategic business decisions, offering cost-effective support for routine legal activities”.

Despite its seemingly broad presence in the region, Deloitte’s legal brand lags behind its competitors, according to a new Asia-Pacific alternative legal brand index by Acritas, which asked 221 senior in-house counsel, collectively responsible for US$1.2 billion of legal spend, to name organisations that provide legal services, excluding law firms, that first come to mind — as well as those they most favoured. While PwC, EY and KPMG topped the list, Deloitte did not make the top five.

In Singapore, it is certainly the case that PwC and EY are ahead of the game. PwC launched its foreign law practice in the city in December 2016 to focus on cross-border regional transactions and projects. The office was founded with two partners: Keith McGuire, who joined from Ashurst, and Natalie Breen, who joined from Norton Rose Fulbright. It has since added two more partners.

Speaking at the time, Leon Flavell, PwC’s global legal services leader, said that the firm saw growing market demand in Asia for “integrated business solutions across multiple territories”.

Earlier this month, PwC hired WongPartnership deputy chair Rachel Eng to launch a new Singapore law firm that will complement the existing foreign law practice. It previously had an association with independent local law firm Camford Law, which left the PwC network in June.

EY has also said it will launch a new Singapore law practice, after poaching four lawyers from Dentons Rodyk & Davidson. The firm, Atlas Asia, will be headed by Evelyn Ang and will replace independent local firm PK Wong & Associates, which was previously part of EY’s legal network.

KPMG has not yet joined the fray in Singapore but is ramping up its legal presence in Asia after hiring Stuart Fuller, former King & Wood Mallesons banking and finance partner, to head up its Australian law practice in November last year.

Of course, this is not the first time that accountants have tried to eat the established law firms’ lunch. Alongside their traditional strengths in advisory, tax and consulting, the big accounting firms have long sought to disrupt the legal services market. As long ago as 1993, Arthur Andersen set up its own UK law firm, Garrett & Co. There was even talk of a merger between Simmons & Simmons and Andersen’s legal arm back in the late 1990s.

It remains to be seen if the accountants will have more success this time. However, with legal budgets under pressure, the emergence of new competitors in the legal services market can only be a good thing for in-house lawyers.

Related Articles by Firm
Clasis Law (India) Newsletter August 2015
Analysis of the revocation of a company's drug patent and other key court rulings and updates on corporate and commercial matters
Foreign Banks Allowed to Operate in Myanmar
After more than 50 years of banning, the Central Bank of Myanmar has issued the first final licenses allowing four foreign banks to operate in Myanmar.
Tanzanian Draft National Energy Policy of 2015
Highlights on the ongoing and upcoming industry developments with focus on the transition of the energy sector since the introduction of the Big Results Now! campaign
Mineral Rights Available in Tanzania
Overview of the mineral rights available in Tanzania, with specific focus on the various categories of mineral rights
The Legal Framework of the Aviation Sector in Tanzania
As attention turns to Tanzania’s trade and energy opportunities, the spotlight has fallen upon the nation’s infrastructure. This update focuses on the capabilities and issues of the Tanzanian aviation sector.
Oil price volatility - Offshore oil storage
Are there any legal concerns with tankers being used for floating storage?
Oil price volatility - risks and opportunities in 2015
While many companies can weather the oil price slide and volatility, some industry players face a real risk of insolvency.
India: Union Budget 2015
A bullet-point overview of changes in Direct Tax, Indirect Tax and Goods and Service Tax in India in light of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s first full-year Budget…
Prohibition against transfer of personal data outside Hong Kong
Section 33 of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (PDPO) prohibits the transfer of personal data to places outside Hong Kong, except in circumstances specified in the PDPO.
Security of payment under FIDIC contracts: more secure, for now
The High Court of Singapore recently handed down an important judgment in relation to the enforceability of Dispute Adjudication Board (DAB) decisions under the FIDIC forms of contract.
Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill passed as Ordinance in India
The long-awaited Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill has become a provisional law in India. The Bill amends the Insurance Act (1938), the General Insurance Business (Naturalisation) Act (1972), and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Act (1999).
SICC: now open for business
On Monday 5 January 2015, the Singapore International Commercial Court ("SICC") was officially opened...
Myanmar insurance update
Clyde & Co partner Michael Horn recently visited Myanmar's commercial capital Yangon and reports on the current state of the insurance market...
Launch of the online mining cadastre transactional portal
Plus, a summary of the key mineral rights available in Tanzania; and, a look at the manner in which mineral rights can be transferred.
Restrictions imposed on holders of mineral rights
This briefing looks at some of the restrictions imposed on holders of mineral rights in Tanzania by the Mining Act 2010
Draft local content policy for the oil & gas industry in Tanzania
The first draft of the long-awaited local content policy for the oil & gas industry in Tanzania has now been published by the Ministry of Energy and Minerals ...
Tanzania: Revocation of mining licences
The Tanzanian government recently announced the cancellation of a total of 174 mining licences. This mining update examines the key continuing obligations imposed by the Mining Act upon mining licence holders.
Mining Development Agreements
In this month’s mining briefing we look at Mining Development Agreements (MDAs) and the role that they play in the mining sector in Tanzania.
The Tanzanian railway system: current legal framework
The railway system of mainland Tanzania has a total track length of 3,676 kilometers (km) with two separate networks, run by two separate organisations ...
Related Articles
Vietnam update
The new region-based minimum wage, TPP agreement, corporate bonds decree and circulars on foreign exchange management for FDI and PPP.
Surprise changes seek to modernise Canadian trademarks law and practice
This bulletin looks at key proposed changes to trademark law in Canada.
Drew & Napier’s Davinder Singh to set up own firm
The firm's executive chairman is leaving after 37 years to start his own practice.
Related Articles by Jurisdiction
Latest Articles
New promotion regime for domestic funds
A new agreement could make the UAE a much more attractive place to establish funds.
USMCA impact on communications industries
How the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement affects telecommunications, broadcasting and digital trade.
Your first 10 days as a legal consultant
The challenges facing legal consultants are unique and require a different set of skills to other employees.