Ogletree Deakins, KPMG Law form global alliance tackling workforce issues

Signage is seen outside of the law offices of Ogletree Deakins in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 30, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart and KPMG Law in Germany on Monday announced a new partnership designed to broaden the scope of both organizations’ immigration and employment law work.

The alliance between U.S. labor and employment law firm and the KPMG-affiliated law practice comes as clients demand a “technology-powered, globally unified approach” to challenges businesses face in immigration, mobility, labor and employment and related issues, the entities said.

Ogletree Deakins and KPMG Law in Germany touted the “non-exclusive” alliance as a way for KPMG member firms to bring Ogletree Deakins’ expertise to clients outside the United States.

The partnership is the latest bid by one of the Big Four professional services firms to expand their share of the legal services market – particularly in non-U.S. jurisdictions where they can practice law.

In October 2020, KPMG launched Global Legal Operations Transformation Services, an international service to help in-house legal departments modernize and improve their operations.

The Big Four – which includes Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte – have also been expanding their legal services offerings in the U.S. market. Deloitte in July 2020 launched a new legal business unit in the United States, which is also aimed at corporate legal departments.

In 2019 Deloitte Legal and Epstein Becker Green formed an alliance similar to Monday’s KPMG announcement, aimed at offering global clients employment law and workforce management services.

The new KPMG alliance doesn’t include the accounting giant’s U.S. affiliates. Greenville, South Carolina-based Ogletree Deakins can work separately with any KPMG US clients that need the legal services, the statement said.

Thomas Wolf, head of immigration services for KPMG, in a statement called Ogletree Deakins’ experience a “perfect fit for KPMG’s organization of firms as we expand our global legal services practice and our global mobility services offerings around the world.”

KPMG Law in Germany is an independent corporate law firm affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative, according to the announcement. KPMG Law’s network of firms includes 2,800 lawyers in 81 jurisdictions.

Ogletree Deakins managing shareholder Matt Keen in a statement said the alliance “will benefit clients by complementing our US labor, employment and immigration offerings with ‘end-to-end’ workplace solutions—including tax, compensation, global immigration, and related advisory and consulting services, over a truly global footprint.”

The 900-lawyer firm is one of the largest U.S. labor and employment firms, with 53 offices throughout the U.S., Europe, Canada and Mexico.

Beyond the Germany affiliation, other KPMG member firms outside of the U.S. are expected to join in the alliance over the next few months, according to Monday’s announcement.

Wolf in a separate emailed statement said the alliance “opens the door for additional and expanded cooperation in other jurisdictions.” He said there are examples in the immigration and employment law space where “client specific cooperation” is already underway, with KPMG firms referring work to Ogletree Deakins and vice versa in Europe, Latin America, the Asia Pacific region and the Middle East.

“In jurisdictions where these capabilities can be directly delivered by KPMG, we will continue to do so and Ogletree will do the same,” Wolf said. “However, in cases where we do not have the direct capabilities in a given jurisdiction, we may leverage one another’s networks accordingly.”

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Sara Merken