Sunday, March 13, 2011

More on North Carolina's Bill To Allow Non-Lawyers to Own Law Firms

(thanks to rizoning.com)

Here is more on the North Carolina Bill to permit non-lawyers to own law firms and have ABS from Neil Rose at Legal Futures. It seems to have taken everyone by surprise.

He quotes Mitt Regan of Georgetown saying that for large law firms there would be problems elsewhere in states that wouldn't permit this type of ownership. Yet multidisciplinary practices are accepted in Washington, DC. Perhaps US law firms could become Swiss vereins and get round it that way.... Highly unlikely, I know, but never underestimate the ingenuity of lawyers.
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2 comments:

James said...

This could actually big a big boon to firms without offices in multiple states. The extrajurisdictional effect of ownership rules seems like a tough obstacle to overcome in the US and is often discussed as such. That said, the only opinion of any sort related to this that I have been able to find is a Virginia Legal Ethics Opinion from 1994 (LEO 1584) that was issued before online practices began catching on and was based heavily on the actual geographic location of where the legal work took place (ok to assist on a VA issue in DC, not in VA). Other states have cited this opinion in discussing the practice of law within the geographic boundaries of their own states, but I haven’t found any others that addressed the extrajurisdictional bit. Leaves one to wonder weather a firm with multistate license attorneys but a single office based in NC could actually practice to a certain extent online.
The particularly relevant piece of the opinion reads as follows:
"Thus, the committee interprets DR 1-102(B) as not banning the
D.C. law firm from conducting activities in D.C. benefitting
Virginia clients (through a licensed Virginia Bar member), but
only as banning the practice of law in Virginia by a law firm
which includes a non-lawyer partner."
The opinion was based on ABA Formal Opinion No. 91-360 (7/11/91).
Thoughts?

SEO Agency said...

For my opinion it is just fine if a non-lawyer will own a law firm. But how will that non-lawyer handle a law firm if that non-lawyer doesn't know everything about lawyers. And it will be provocative to the clients if they lack experience and information about lawyers at all.