Epstein Becker Green and Deloitte Legal Featured in “The Latest Big Four-Law Firm Alliance Follows Tested Model”

The American Lawyer

Epstein Becker Green and Deloitte Legal Alliance Marks Two Years

Epstein Becker Green and Deloitte Legal’s Alliance for Employment Law and Workforce Management Services was featured in The American Lawyer, in “The Latest Big Four-Law Firm Alliance Follows Tested Model. Will EY Go Next?” by Dan Packel. James P. Flynn, Managing Director of the Firm and Member in the Litigation and Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practices, comments on the Firm’s Alliance and the future of the marketplace.

Following is an excerpt:

KPMG last week became the third member of the Big Four to ink an alliance with a U.S. law firm, when it partnered with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart.

Now, as observers carefully watch for any moves by EY—the only Big Four firm that hasn’t yet sealed a partnership with Big Law—the benefits of such arrangements are coming into focus. The law firm participants and legal industry consultants say those benefits include global scale and more client business for each side.

Immigration firm Berry Appleman & Leiden was the first mover, linking up with Deloitte in June 2018 in a deal that also saw the accounting firm acquire its operations outside of the United States. Next came Am Law 100 firm immigration giant Fragomen, which announced a tie-up with PwC in September of that year. And in May 2019, Deloitte found another U.S. partner, labor and employment and health care specialists Epstein Becker & Green.

“Obviously we see that as proof of concept,” Epstein Becker managing partner Jim Flynn said of the Ogletree-KPMG alliance. “I think the marketplace has seen the advantages of it, many of which we’ve demonstrated.”

In particular, Flynn pointed to the extra business after partnering with Deloitte. “We’ve opened upwards of dozens and dozens of new clients on our side, and certainly forwarded as just as many to Deloitte,” Flynn said in an interview.It’s certainly brought in revenues exceeding any direct expense we put into it.”

In general, Flynn said his firm’s alliance with Deloitte has allowed both parties to deepen and expand their client base over the past two years, owing to the complementary nature of their capabilities.

“We’ve been able to take some relationships that were very focused, either in one particular geography or one particular subgroup, and had opportunities to expand that, because we were able to show an international element on our side,” he said. Conversely, Deloitte has been able to demonstrate U.S. capabilities that can been coordinated with what it’s doing around the world.

“In each direction, it allowed us to introduce some new opportunities to them, and them to introduce some new opportunities to us,” he said. …

Benefits and Challenges

Yet, the Epstein Becker-Deloitte tie-up has been validated over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which the two entities have collaborated in helping a number of multinational companies first move out of the office and then later plan the phasing back of office work.

And remote work at Epstein Becker had the effect of shrinking the perceived distance between firm lawyers and Deloitte personnel. The screens and telephones that had mediated these relationships were now crucial to interactions with clients and colleagues as well.

But it’s also taken time to make the right connections, owning to the massive size of Deloitte, which is home to roughly 2,500 legal professionals across over 75 countries, out of a total of 330,000 employees. Compare that to Epstein Becker, with just 300 attorneys.

“One of the challenges was really getting to understand everything Deloitte had to offer and all we had to offer the various parts of Deloitte,” Flynn said. “There were certainly times where it took a while to get to know people.”