December 22, 1999
American Bar Association
750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
ATTN: President William G. Paul
Re: Multidisciplinary Practice
Dear Mr. Paul:
On December 22, 1999, the Board of Directors for National Lawyers Association unanimously approved the attached resolution opposing any change in the Code of Professional Responsibility that would allow for the creation of multidisciplinary practices between lawyers and non-lawyers. National Lawyers Association urges the ABA House of Delegates to reject the recommendations of the Commission on Multidisciplinary Practice. As I am sure you are aware, already several state bar associations have voiced their opposition and have also requested postponement of any decision on the recommendations of the Commission.
National Lawyers Association believes that the attorney-client privilege should remain inviolate and that allowing non-lawyers to join in providing legal services – as the Commission recommends – threatens that basic principle. Furthermore, by allowing non-lawyers to have supervisory control over attorneys’ decisions about their own ethical obligations will tremendously undermine public confidence in the legal system.
We respect the commission’s motivation: to enable law firms to expand economically. But the National Lawyers Association believes that the economic interests of lawyers can be enhanced, as it is now, by the creation of separate business entities which are affiliated with law firms to provide other professional and business services. For the protection and preservation of the American system of jurisprudence, the professionalism of a truly independent bar, the preservation of the public’s confidence in our legal system, and for the best interests of clients and the lawyers who serve them, the recommendations of the ABA’s Commission on Multidisciplinary Practice must be rejected by the ABA.
During this era of growing public skepticism about the legal profession’s ability to discipline itself, the changes proposed by the Commission, if adopted, will only confirm the public’s worst doubts. National Lawyers Association will continue its study of this matter and is willing to work with the ABA to achieve a final determination that is in the best interests of American system of legal jurisprudence.
John G. Farnan, President
ON MULTIDISCIPLINARY PRACTICE
(ADOPTED DECEMBER 22, 1999)
WHEREAS, the practice of law under the American system of jurisprudence for the last two hundred years has provided the American people with the best system of jurisprudence and justice conceived to date by any nation or peoples;
WHEREAS, among the key ingredients of the American system of jurisprudence have been the independence of American attorneys and their uncompromising loyalty to their clients;
WHEREAS, it has not been sufficiently reviewed, studied or demonstrated that multidisciplinary practices, which allow lawyers to share legal fees and services with nonlawyers, will not cause severe erosion of the core values of the American legal profession;
Be it resolved that the National Lawyers Association opposes any changes in the existing regulations in the several states prohibiting attorneys from practicing law in multidisciplinary practices until it is clearly demonstrated that MDPs are in the best interest of the American system of jurisprudence, clients and the American society at large.
Be it further resolved that the National Lawyers Association opposes the recommendations adopted by the ABA Commission on Multidisciplinary Practice until additional studies unconditionally demonstrate that such proposed changes will further the public interest without sacrificing or compromising lawyer independence and the legal profession’s tradition of loyalty to clients and will not be otherwise detrimental to the American system of legal jurisprudence.
Duly adopted by the Board of Directors of the National Lawyers Association on the 22 nd day of December, 1999.
Darwin Johnson, Secretary