Multidisciplinary Practice: The States Weigh In
Mona L. Hymel
University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law
Tax Notes, Vol. 88, P. 261, 2000
In August 1999, when the American Bar Association voted to defer consideration of whether or not the bar should allow Multidisciplinary Practices (MDPs), the states went home to study MDPs and, ultimately, determine whether they were in favor of or against allowing lawyers to share fees with nonlawyer professionals. The American Bar Association is now ready to consider again whether the bar should accept or reject MDPs. The members of the ABA House of Delegates, made up of representatives from the states as well as local bar associations, will cast their votes on this issue this week in New York at the ABA 2000 Annual Meeting. The Delegates will have three choices: (1) they could approve the recommendation of the ABA Commission on Multidisciplinary Practices, which endorses MDPs; (2) they could approve the recommendation from Illinois, New Jersey and New York, which rejects MDPs, but advocates establishing guidelines for allowing lawyers to enter into strategic alliances with nonlawyer professionals; or (3) they could vote to postpone any action on MDP-related issues until the 2001 Midyear Meeting.
In this article, Professor Hymel outlines the for and against recommendations and arguments on MDPs made by state bars who
have prepared reports on the MDP issue. The decisions that come out of this week's ABA 2000 Annual Meetings will be derived
in large part from the reports and recommendations made by these states. States favoring MDPs argue that MDPs are already here,
and that states must actively regulate lawyers that practice in these entities. The pro-MDP states are confident that the legal ethical rules can be modified to accommodate MDPs without jeopardizing the core values of the legal profession. The anti-MDP states believe that core values of the legal profession can not be adequately protected in an entity where nonlawyers have ownership and possibly control over legal services. These states advocate reaffirming our commitment to enforcing existing legal ethical rules, not acquiescing to pressure from those looking for financial gain. Finally, a chart summarizing how each state is proceeding on the issue of MDPs is provided at the end of the article.
Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: September 27, 2000
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