A Primer on Mdps: Should the 'No' Rule Become a New Rule
96 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2004
This article is the second of four major articles or book chapters that I have written about MDPs. "MDPs" refers to multidisciplinary partnerships or multidisciplinary practices between lawyers and nonlawyers. Prior to 1998, virtually all U.S. states had lawyer discipline rules that prohibited a lawyer from sharing legal fees with a nonlawyer or practicing law in partnership with a nonlawyer. In 1998, however, the American Bar Association created a Commission on Multidisciplinary Practice to reconsider these rules. One impetus for the creation of this Commission was the increasingly large numbers of lawyers who were working for the Big 5 Accounting Firms doing work that was similar to the work traditionally done in law firms.
This Article examines whether the current MDP prohibition should be replaced with rules that set the conditions under which lawyers may work in an MDP setting. The article reviews both the U.S. rules regarding MDPs and the MDP developments outside the U.S. The article then identifies the common regulatory questions that have emerged in the U.S. and elsewhere. The article uses these regulatory questions as the basis for analyzing the ABA MDP Commission's June 1999 Report. The article's conclusion is that it is better for regulators to respond to the MDP phenomenon by trying to regulate it, rather than by ignoring the phenomenon or trying to stop it. This article includes as an Appendix an MDP "Issue Checklist."
Keywords: lawyers, legal ethics, MDPs, Wouters v. Nova, trade in legal services, CCBE, EU, Issue Checklist
JEL Classification: L8, L84, K33, L70
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation