ABA considers allowing non-lawyers to have a stake in law firms for which they work

December 7, 2011 The American Bar Association Commission on Ethics is considering a proposal to allow nonlawyers to take an equity stake in law firms for which they work. If the proposal is passed, the change will be reflected in the ABA’s model rules, which may then be adopted by individual states.

Currently, non-lawyer ownership of law firms is banned in all 50 states, and is only permitted in the capital district – Washington DC.

The Commission has made it very clear that its recommendations will not endorse exposing law firms to the stock market or any move toward allowing law firms to combine with other professional disciplines, such as accountancy.

Among the professionals cited as potentially qualifying to take such a stake in law firms are architects, engineers, social workers, or investigators who work for the firm by assisting in such practice areas as, respectively, land use, intellectual property, family law, or personal injury.

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