Ernst & Young makes senior legal appointments


Ernst & Young LLP (EY) has made six appointments to its law team including Alan Cunningham and Richard Skipper as partners. 

Cunningham, formerly a partner at DLA Piper, is joining EY along with his team – Richard Skipper, Claire Manley, Anna Powers, Chris Nash and Alice Threadgold. It is a staggered arrival at EY, Cunningham joined last week and the rest of the team will join in stages until the end of January. 

“All of the big four are growing their legal divisions and EY probably, in my opinion, are the most advanced. What that allows us to do as lawyers is to advise clients on a multi-disciplinary basis with colleagues from other professions but under the same umbrella,” Cunningham told CJI.

Back in the 1990s the UK government permitted what are known as multi-disciplinary partnerships. These allow, for example, lawyers and accountants to offer combined services to the same client. Moving away from its traditional base in accountancy and audit, EY’s specialisms include: commercial and business aviation, shipping, marine and superyachts, defence, rail, energy, automotive, equipment leasing and receivables. 

“There is a lot more you can give. Just by way of example, this morning I have spoke to a defence consultant, he was an aeronautical engineer who used to work at BAE Systems, he then did an MBA before moving to EY and now works across government contracting and defence sectors. If I was to work on a project at a traditional law firm I would only work with other lawyers, at EY I introduce him to my clients and he does I,” said Cunningham.

Cunningham compares a traditional law firm to a building society and a big four firm, like EY, to an investment bank – one does a lot more than the other. 

“I don’t want to seem critical because I use building societies we all do. But they traditionally offer limited product, it is essentially savings and residential mortgages. Whereas you compare your traditional Bradford & Bingley to Goldman Sachs there is a whole panoply of services and expertise,” says Cunningham.

 “I think this represents the future of how legal services are going to be provided because lawyers naturally want to work with other professions under the same banner and this is the start of it [for us],” he added.