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Commission on Ethics 20/20 Will Not Propose Changes to Policy Prohibiting Nonlawyer Ownership of Law Firms

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NEW: ABA Journal Reports on Ethics 20/20 Commission Meeting - February 3, 2012

The ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 still is undecided on whether it will make a recommendation on whether nonlawyers should be allowed to have some form of limited ownership interest in U.S. law firms.

In recent months, the commission's work on the issue has focused on what the substance of such a recommendation might be. On Dec. 2, the commission released a discussion paper (PDF) on alternative law practice structures that outlines one possible approach to nonlawyer ownership—but it does not amount to an actual recommendation.

The commission also posted initial draft proposals (PDF) on choice-of-law issues affecting fee-sharing when law firms operating in multiple jurisdictions are governed by different rules on nonlawyer ownership.

The commission is asking for comments on both documents by Feb. 29. (Comments may be sent to senior research paralegal Natalia Vera at natalia.vera@americanbar.org.)

But after a lengthy discussion at today's meeting of the commission, it's evident that there is no clear consensus among commission members on whether they should bring any recommendation at all to the ABA's policy-making House of Delegates calling for revisions to the association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct that would let nonlawyers hold limited ownership interests in law firms. (The Model Rules are the direct basis for lawyer conduct rules in every state except California.)

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  • Articles

NEW: ABA Journal Article - June 1, 2012

Summer Job: Ethics 20/20 Commission Shelves Nonlawyer Ownership, Focuses on Other Proposals 

NEW: Summary of Actions by the Commission on Ethics 20/20

The ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 has released a summary of the Commission's work to date. Read Summary of Actions

NEW: Presentation to ABA House of Delegates in Toronto

Commission Co-Chair Michael Traynor, Commissioner Judith Miller and Commission Chief Reporter Andrew Perlman addressed the ABA House of Delegates during the Annual Meeting in Toronto. 

Watch the video of their presentation.  View accompanying power point presentation.