The lawsuit challenging the ethics rules that prevent nonlawyer ownership of law firms brought by an East Coast law firm, Jacoby and Myers, has inspired The Economist, which favors the change, to write about where things stand, in "The Case Against Clones:"
Even if Jacoby & Myers loses this round, experiences abroad may change the debate in America. Several years ago, Australia allowed “alternative business structures”, including non-lawyer ownership of firms, and even public flotation. Slater & Gordon got a listing in 2007, making it the world’s first publicly traded law firm. Last year the Legal Services Act brought similar rules to Britain. The Co-op, best known for its supermarkets, has announced plans to offer cheap legal services. Duke Street, a private-equity firm, has bought over half of Parabis, itself a group including two law firms. And Slater & Gordon has bought Britain’s Russell, Jones & Walker. More than 300 British law firms are waiting to become alternative business structures under the new law, according to Jomati, a legal consultancy. (Special rules for Scotland limit outside ownership to 49%.)