Can Nonlawyers Own Law Firms

In the summer of 2020, the Arizona Supreme Court issued an order that could have a major effect on the legal community. The court eliminated the ban on nonlawyers having economic interests in law firms. It also eliminates the rule regarding fee sharing with nonlawyers.

Access to Justice

The Arizona ruling follows a similar ruling from a Utah court, which established a regulatory sandbox that will allow lawyers and non-traditional legal providers to explore ways to practice law and promote their services. Illinois is also pushing for an expansion of access to legal help. In addition, the California State Bar Board of Trustees voted to form its own temporary regulatory sandbox for nonlawyer owned law firms.

The reasoning behind these rulings is that permitting alternative business structures will increase the public’s access to justice. Free market competition is being promoted, and in the future legal providers can team up with other disciplines. In some cases, legal paraprofessionals could be authorized to provide legal services to the public and even represent clients in court. It is believed these measures could drive down legal costs and encourage more competition.

How Will This Affect Lawyers?

While paraprofessionals and other organizations may be able to offer affordable and accessible legal services to the public, this is unlikely to have a major effect on the future of lawyers. Paraprofessionals do not have the training and expertise that lawyers have and cannot provide the whole range of services. Clients will be more willing to work with someone that has more knowledge of their problems and is better equipped to handle their matters.

In addition, lifting the ban on nonlawyer ownership of law firms could provide law firms with greater opportunities to enter into new types of business deals. Lawyers can collaborate with other skilled professionals. Sharing success can create better environments and improve services for clients.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

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