February 19, 1999
Mr. Arthur Garwin
American Bar Association
Center for Professional Responsibility
541 N. Fairbanks Court, 14 Floor
Chicago, IL 60611
Dear Mr. Garwin:
I write to you in order to urge the American Bar Association to lift its prohibition on multidisciplinary practices, thereby giving consumers of legal services another choice in how they obtain legal representation.
I own a commercial real estate development company in Orange County and I often must rely on several professional consultants from lawyers to insurers to accountants to realtors for my business needs. There have been several times when it would have been advantageous to obtain several of these services "under one roof" instead of spending a great deal of time "consultant shopping" and then bringing each of these consultants up to speed on my particular needs at the time.
In addition to the obvious cost savings of MDPs, there would be the added benefit of a seamless flow of information among professionals who are all familiar with my business.
In talking with an attorney friend of mine, I learned that there is a perceived fear that people may be unwittingly surrendering their confidential attorney/client privileges by working with an MDP. I feel this concern is unwarranted, as I expect the consultants I retain to adhere to the ethics of their profession regardless of whose name is on the office door. Allowing greater flexibility for MDPs would not change or loosen any rules of confidentiality for Bar-certified attorneys.
Further, few small businesses are dealing with huge legal issues or arguing cases before the Supreme Court. In most cases, we retain law firms for assistance in the day-to-day operation of our business, from contracts to tax issues to the hiring and firing of employees. With this in mind, any risks involving a breach of confidentiality inside an MDP are in fact quite minimal, and not any greater than they would be inside a traditional law firm.
In summary, MDPs are a good fit with today's business environment. I hope your commission will take these thoughts into consideration when making its recommendation to the ABA.
Haydee Velazquez Tillotson