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Some of the Big 4 consulting giants already think AI could trim years off the path to partner

2 min read

Consulting giants and law firms are looking to artificial intelligence to speed up the time it takes junior staffers to make it to the prestigious partner level as the technology eliminates vast swaths of the repetitive, time-consuming tasks that typically filled up their first few years on the job.

At KPMG, for instance, freshly-minted graduates are now doing tax work that was previously reserved for staff with at least three years of experience. Over at PwC, junior staffers are spending more time pitching clients rather than the hours they used to spend prepping meeting documents. And at Macfarlanes LLP, junior lawyers are interpreting complex contracts that their more—experienced peers used to have to handle. 

“It’s a real balance because there is a great deal of benefit for learning by doing some of these documents, but do you need to do that for two years?” said Jeff Westcott, global director of innovation and practice technology at the law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner. “Probably not. Once you’ve done it three or four times, you’re comfortable.”

If the early experimentation pans out, it would mark a seismic shift for professional services firms, which are known for subjecting junior staffers to years of tedious work before putting them on the path to becoming partner. That partner title translates to bigger client assignments and fatter paychecks.

It currently takes about a decade to make partner at a law firm, according to the Law Society, while the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants has found it takes an average of 17 years to reach that title at one of the so-called Big Four accounting giants. 

Making partner at the accounting giants are some of the highest paying jobs in the City of London. Partners at Ernst & Young LLP’s UK arm pocketed an average of £761,000 in its latest fiscal year, while over at Deloitte LLP such pay reached over £1 million this year. 

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP paid UK…

Irina Anghel, Bloomberg

2023-12-04 08:15:26

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