The times, they-are-a-changing, that is for sure. In other jurisdictions outside of the United States, non-lawyer firm ownership has already taken root with some law firms even selling shares to the public. The debate in the United States goes on. An interesting trend to watch especially for in-house counsel. When hiring outside counsel, will in-house counsel have to do a much more in-depth analysis of potential outside counsel?
“A proposed resolution working its way up the American Bar Association sounds innocuous enough, if not completely decipherable. It calls for the adoption of “regulatory objectives for the provision of legal services” that would help “identify and implement regulations related to legal services beyond the traditional regulation of the legal profession.” But those words are stirring alarm among some local bar groups…The context surrounding the controversy is the long-simmering debate among the legal establishment over allowing non-lawyers to own stakes in law firms…whenever the idea has been floated within the ABA, it’s gotten strong push-back. Giving people who don’t have a law license the ability to share firm profits would undermine the profession’s ethical obligations of client loyalty and confidentiality, critics argue. They fear that decision-making within firms would be influenced by investors or shareholders who aren’t bound by the same rules of conduct as licensed lawyers.”
Read: ABA Resolution Stirs Fears of Non-Lawyer Firm Ownership at the WSJ Law Blog