American Bar Association Panel Moves Somewhat Towards Non-Lawyer Ownership of Law Firms
An ABA panel is recommending that the ABA allow non-lawyer owners of law firms if they work for the firm. The panel is not recommending allowing straight outside investment, as is now done in the UK and Australia. AmLaw Daily has more color to the story , with links to this new paper and this older paper related to the recommendation.
Change arrives slowly in law. For now, the ABA’s stance may slow the demise of the local general practice firm that handles will and real estate matters. But law schools, prospective lawyers and colleges all need to adjust – within a decade, there will no longer be much of a place for lawyers handling rote tasks. Instead, technicians will handle standard transactions and issues.
On a more frightening level, consider the beasts that insurers will create to "defend" clients and refuse to pay claims. Some of today’s captive law firms already make precious little use of real legal skills. When outside workers can own much of the law firm, claims adjusters seem sure to move in, willing to work for less than lawyers. There is a reason the insurance industry has been a big part of commoditizing law, as it did with medicine.