The marketing of legal services through branded pens and breakfast seminars will be no protection against a sustained attack from the Big Accountancies. Their turn-over dwarfs the legal firms and the "they won't because they won't" hope that companies will only buy legal services from dedicated law firms sounds very Kodak.
The quality of the service may be reduced somewhat for now but for lower-end Legal services, price and ease is key. It is effectively the "disruptive technology" argument applied to services. Over time the quality of the newcomer increases and, possibly, eventually dislodges even the finest quality incumbent product.
I think we can expect the mergers and increasing management professionalism in the Legal Industry to continue for sometime yet to fend off this mismatch.
Those most at risk from the attack of the bean-counters are the profusion of mid-tier legal firms in liberalised markets. Since their profit margins are already low, they cannot afford even a modest loss of market share. Unfortunately for them, much of their business is high-volume, repetitive tasks—just the sort of work that the Big Four excel at standardising and automating. Most of these vulnerable law firms have been slow to react. That may be because their clients are telling them not to worry: in a recent survey by American Lawyer magazine, 90% of companies’ general counsels did not think their business would buy legal advice from an accounting network.