100 years + of collective legal malpractice experience

Reviewing regulations for lawyer/non-lawyer partnerships

by | Aug 22, 2019 | Legal Malpractice |

A major element of legal services is the avoidance of any appearance of a conflict of interest. When you hire an attorney in Florida, they must provide you with the best representation that is free of any influence from obligations to or affiliations with other clients and/or organizations. One aspect of their work where such connections may come into play is in client procurement. While having a trusted company or professional partner steer you towards an attorney with whom they share a business relationship may seem appealing, the last thing that you want is to rely on a lawyer who answers to a non-legal professional. Many of the clients that we here at St. Denis & Davey PA have worked with in the past can attest to this fact.

Per Rule 5.4(b) of the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, a lawyer cannot form a professional partnership with a non-lawyer if an element of that partnership will include the practice of law. While such partnership may be permissible in situations where an attorney offers legal advice short of actual representation, it expressly discourages professional associations such as: 

  • Publicly-traded law firms
  • Non-lawyer investment in or ownership of law firms
  • Multidisciplinary practices

Why would the ABA prohibit such a practice? The aforementioned rule goes on to state that a lawyer cannot allow a non-legal professional who recommends, employs or pays them for legal services to influence their practice of the law in any way. Such influence could potentially impact the professional duty that an attorney owes to you and other clients. 

You can learn more about the professional standards attorneys are expected to uphold by continuing to explore our site.