Legal Ethics, Partner Issues

Because Walmart Really Should Be Allowed To Own A Law Firm

Every so often, we need to ask the question: Why do lawyers have to run law firms? Just because that’s the way it always has been doesn’t mean that it’s the right way to do things. Law is a business — obviously — so why can’t business people run them?

Things are the way they are now because of legal ethics rules barring non-lawyer ownership of legal practices. That’s not the only way to do it; England and Australia have no such bans.

We do in America, but hey, laws can change. At least that’s what Jacoby & Meyers is hoping.

Yeah, that Jacoby & Meyers….

Jacoby & Meyers, the firm famous (or infamous) for its ubiquitous television ads, is suing to overturn the ban:

The suit filed on Wednesday claims the ethics rule against outside ownership “perpetuates economic inequity” because smaller firms don’t have the same access to capital markets for expansion that the larger firms have.

The ban is intended to protect lawyers’ professional judgment from outsider influence. Australia and England have passed laws allowing nonlawyer ownership, and the issue is being debated in the United States.

Hehehe: “protect lawyers’ professional judgment from outsider influence.” What kind of influence would that be? Are we afraid that an “outsider” would counsel a lawyer to do things for money? The HORROR!

What a freaking joke. Law is a business, people. Ask the scores of laid-off associates who are part of the Lost Generation if lawyer/managers are looking out for the profession or if their former bosses were only concerned with the cold bottom line. Why can’t business people run law firms? Maybe if they could, law firms wouldn’t make terrible business decisions.

Bring it on, I say. We already know that some firms run themselves like Walmart; imagine how much more effective those firms would be if people actually trained in Walmart business practices were running operations.

Jacoby & Meyers Sues to Overturn Bans on Nonlawyer Ownership of Law Firms [ABA Journal]

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