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  • 🥊 Why Allen & Overy is stepping to the Big Four

🥊 Why Allen & Overy is stepping to the Big Four

In today’s email:

  • Help me improve LittleLaw

  • Walk around Japanese cities

  • Lawyers want to use ChatGPT

  • Are law firms now consultants?

  • Make some music with a few mouse clicks

  • The London Stock Exchange needs to relax a bit

  • Commercial awareness doesn’t stop when you get a job

If you take just one thing from this email…

Law firms are striving to improve their client offerings. While the Big Four have historically offered LOADS of different services to their clients, by adding legal services in recent years, they’ve become a really attractive one-stop-shop destination for clients. Law firms are now trying to fight back a bit.


I’m always looking to make LittleLaw better to make it easier to improve your commercial awareness with the goal of giving you confidence in your legal job applications.

So, I want to hear your thoughts on how LittleLaw can be improved to help you with your law firm applications.

Whether it’s:

  • different types of content,

  • better filtering to see which firms are getting involved with which deals,

  • more regular emails… 👀

or literally anything else you want to share (good or bad) fill in this 20-second form below. 👇️ 


In last week’s newsletter, I asked your views on whether students should be allowed to use AI technology like ChatGPT? Thank you to all of you who sent in your responses - I read all of them.


Should students be allowed to use AI technology like ChatGPT?

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 ✅ Yes - gotta keep up with the times (35)

🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️ ❌ No - the old way it tried and tested (16)

51 Votes

via @beehiiv polls

Some arguments you made in favour:

  • “Students 50 years ago could not imagine online 7 day assessments, that’s the same way we can’t imagine using AI like Chat GPT for our assessments. I think we are going to be very shocked by the future of education. UCB did a good job. Definitely future facing. Give it time, other universities will do the same.”

  • “Whether universities/schools like it or not, students will use ChatGPT. Outright banning it is foregoing the opportunity to guide students to ethical usage and giving up supervision of proper use.”

An argument you made against:

  • “It’s cheating and you’re not completing the degree genuinely.”

Personally, I’m in team ‘Yes’, students should be allowed to use ChatGPT (or things like it)

Large language AI models are so clearly out in the open now that we’re not going to go back to a world without them.

At the moment, there’s still a need to learn the old ways of researching and writing. But that’s just because of the limitations of ChatGPT in its current form (for example, it’s been known to make up cases and statutes without knowing).

BUT the rate at which AI is improving is rapid and I believe all the issues that AI currently has will inevitably be fixed very soon.

I get that it feels like cheating to use ChatGPT. We’ve been taught that hard work is something that should be rewarded and using AI can seem ‘too easy’ to count as real work.

But it’ll inevitably be used more in real jobs and part of studying at university is (among other things) to prepare you for the working world.

The need for some old skills will be lost, but you’ll have to learn new skills like learning the right prompts to make the AI give you what you want.

In case you’re interested, I made a video on how I think AI will be used in the world of legal work 👇️ 

- Idin


🥊 Why Allen & Overy is stepping to the Big Four

What’s going on here?

Over the last few years, law firms are expanding into consulting services to add another ‘string’ to their revenue ‘bow’ to be able to provide a more complete offering to clients. Historically, it has been the Big Four accounting firms (who also provide consulting services) entering the legal industry. This trend flips the script just a little bit.

Who are the Big Four?

The Big Four refer to the four largest accounting firms in the world: Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG. They are known for their global reach, expertise, and influence in the business world.

These firms provide a range of professional services including consulting services. Sadly for law firms, they also started providing legal services from around 10 years ago.

They’re not slowing down anytime soon too.

For example, KPMG said last year that it was planning to double the size of its UK legal practice by taking on a further 220 lawyers by the end of 2024 (in total it has more than 3,000 lawyers across 80 jurisdictions - to put this into perspective, Clifford Chance also has around 3,000 lawyers).

They also think they can do better than existing law firms.

Cornelius Grossmann, global law leader at EY, said that the firm’s strategy is to bundle EY’s legal services together with the company's other work areas like tax, finance and consulting strategy to provide "a truly integrated service."

This is something law firms traditionally can’t do.

Okay… so what actually is consulting?

If you’ve got a mate who wants to be or is a consultant, I’m sure they’ve been asked this question again and again (maybe they don’t even have an answer).

Consulting is the process of providing guidance to a business in an area in which the consultant has specialist expertise to help the business solve a problem they’re facing and reach its goals.

The expertise could be in a niche area like human capital (meaning how to make their people more effective), environmental issues or tax.

Companies like the Big Four have access to resources that the client may not have (things like very experienced people, a wide network with other firms or technology for data analysis).

Also if your problem is something short-term - maybe it’s related to one specific project - you can use consultants for the period you need them, meaning you’d not need to have full-time employees who wouldn’t actually be needed all year round.

Why are law firms offering consulting services?

Law firms are starting consulting arms to:

  • ⚔️ gain a competitive edge over their peers,

  • 🤑 add new sources of revenue, and

  • 💌 be able to offer their clients more of what they need.

If the client has the option of:

  • 🐎 law firm 1 - which is just a traditional law firm and would require the client to find another firm to help with its other business issues, or

  • 🏍️ law firm 2 - a cool new firm which provides legal services alongside strategic consulting…

… the client will probably go for the second one (assuming other things like pricing, fees and reputation were the same).

Firms like Allen & Overy are trying to become like law firm 2 in the example above 👇️ 

Law firms say that their move into consulting isn’t to fight back against the Big Four - it’s an effort to give more to their clients and add a new source of revenue to the firm.

When you think about it, lawyers advising commercial clients are well-placed to do more than just give their input in legal issues.

Tony Williams, principal at Jomati Consultants, a legal management consultancy, said businesses nowadays face many current risks like:

  • rising cyberthreats,

  • ESG obligations, and

  • money laundering hazards.

He says that these new business and reputational dangers mean that “looking at legal risk may be too narrow" to give advice that is as useful as it can be to a client.

He said "something may be legal but still expose a client to reputational risk, [such as] aggressive tax structuring or supply chains potentially involving poor working conditions"

To put it into a real-life example, Jamie Ng, global head of Ashurst’s risk consultancy arm, said that teams of lawyers and risk consultants from the firm have been invited to join the board subcommittees of their clients following ransomware attacks to help them manage the entire crisis from end to end. He added “that's an integrated offering that [other] law firms don't have.”

So you can see how legal and non-legal issues can be linked.

Another side benefit for law firms from venturing into consulting is that it forces them to stay ‘in the know’ about any regulatory change that can potentially affect a client’s business. By staying up-to-date on these changes law firms can, in theory, anticipate any legal challenges that may arise for their clients, preparing for them proactively, which can save their clients time and money in the long run.

Which law firms are doing this?

  • Allen & Overy entered this field in 2019 with its A&O consulting arm - they were one of the first firms to do this. They helping businesses deal with things like changing regulations, how to create a better company culture, how to manage risks and how best to deal with cross-border work.

  • Pinsent Masons has a dedicated diversity and inclusion consultancy called Brook Graham. It advises clients on issues of diversity, including disclosing pay gaps between genders, strategies for increasing diversity among top executives, and the creation of refreshed parental leave protocols.

  • Ashurst launched its UK risk advisory business in October 2022 after venturing into the sector in Australia in March 2020.



  • 📈 The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is proposing to simplify the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The proposed changes (such as removing the ‘Standard’ and ‘Premium’ segments with just one market segment) are meant to make it more straightforward to list a company on the LSE. They’re hoping they’ll attract more companies to choose to go public in the UK.

  • 👀 The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) are reviewing Adobe’s proposed $20bn acquisition of the online design tool Figma. After blocking Microsoft’s $75bn takeover of Activision Blizzard last week, the UK competition watchdog is now taking a close look at the proposed Adobe deal to check whether it would weaken competition in the UK if it went ahead.

  • 🗞️ Law firms who keep their clients updated on what’s going in their relevant industries make their clients happy. That’s what was found in a survey of 100 general counsels in the UK and US where 61% of them said that they prefer law firms who show subject matter expertise. So, don’t think the commercial awareness slog is over once you get a job!

  • 🤖 A report from Thomson Reuters shows that lawyers think ChatGPT should be used in legal work. The survey of law firm lawyers showed 82% believe that ChatGPT and generative AI can be readily applied to legal work (have a look at the chart below 👇️).


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  • 👥 Community for aspiring lawyers: If you're struggling with motivation for law firm applications, check out FlowHuddle - a supportive online community, hosting remote co-working sessions, expert office hours and in-person meet-ups.

  • 📕Commercial awareness journal: Check out this journal that we've created alongside the team from The Lawyer Spot. It gives your a simple three-step structure to improve your commercial awareness in a high-quality physical notebook.

  • 📣 Advertise with us: If you're looking to reach an engaged audience of over 6,000 aspiring lawyers, drop us an email.

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