Although the New York State Bar Association remains opposed to nonlawyer ownership of law firms, its president recently stated that the organization will study whether nonlawyers should be allowed to own a stake in law firms. For more on the story, go to the Wall Street Journal law blog, which has a link to the remarks by the president of the NYSBA (here)
The last time the issue was discussed by the full ABA (in 2000), a proposal to allow for nonlawyer ownership in law firms was defeated. The New York State Bar Association, along with several other state bar associations, argued against the proposal, warning that it could compromise core values of the profession such as loyalty, independence and confidentiality.
The current ABA Commission working on possible new amendments to the Model Rules (the 20/20 Commission) is considering a new proposal on the subject - available here. Under this version, non-lawyers could own stakes in law firms, but lawyers would still have to maintain a controlling financial interest and voting rights in the firm. For more information on the work of the Commission go here.