Monday, November 26, 2012

Court of Appeals revives case challenging the ban on non lawyer ownership of law firms

Back in May of 2011, I wrote the "the next big thing" in Legal Ethics/Professional Responsibility was going to be the debate on whether non lawyers should be allowed to invest (or "own") law firms.  See my original post (with links to more information) here.  Since then, there have been lots of conferences, articles and a lot of discussion on the subject.

At that time, the issue came to the forefront because the law firm Jacoby & Meyers filed a lawsuit in New York challenging the state rules barring outsiders from owning stakes in firms arguing the rules unconstitutionally restrict interstate commerce. However, almost a year later, in March of this year, the lawsuit was dismissed.  Go here for my post on that (again, with links to more information).

Now comes news that the debate can continue...  In an order issued last week, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled that Jacoby & Myers can amend its complaint to challenge all provisions of New York law that bar non lawyer investment in law firms. For more on the story, you can go to The ABA Journal, The New York Law Journal, Reuters, and the Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

UPDATE (11-30-12):  there is good comment on the issue in the Legal Ethics Forum by Nicole Hyland.

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