This is truly astounding and excellent news which I found published at: http://blogs.findlaw.com/strategist/2011/05/jacoby-meyers-sues-to-allow-nonlawyers-to-own-law-firms.html#more. I think this is evidence that the legal monopoly is breaking down under economic pressure. The Island of Illegitimate Monopolistic privilege occupied by members of the Judicially Controlled “Integrated” State Bars which first became entrenched in the 1920s-30s, and which today approximate something like a “peerage” of titled-nobility, achievable by competitive examination and oaths of loyalty of loyalty administered by the very same judges who make all other decisions, including those relating to disbarment. The judicial administration of an “all lawyer” legal profession has had nothing short of catastrophic effects on (1) the securities, banking, and mortgage finance industries, (2) the state and federal family law regimes and divorce/dissolution “industries”, (3) above all, politics (which is neither more nor less than the legal “manufacturing” industry, whose sole product is law) the legal profession and court systems themselves, which have become ingrown and corruptly self-perpetuating. In any event, though, perhaps if non-lawyers can own lawfirms, the integrated bar will finally begin to collapse and the judicial strangle-hold on justice will start to be loosened.
Jacoby & Meyers Sues to Allow Nonlawyers to Own Law Firms
So if Mother England no longer bars nonlawyers from owning equity stakes in law firms, who are we Yanks to continue our ethical objections?
After all, both the Constitution and the Judiciary Act of 1789 incorporate “the common law,” i.e., the common law of England.
The British, Australians, the District of Columbia, and maybe soon North Carolina, have discarded the ethical rule against nonlawyers owning equity stakes in law firms, reports the ABA Journal.
And now multi-state law firm Jacoby & Meyers has filed lawsuits in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, alleging the rule denies them equal protection, due process and other fundamental rights, reports The Wall Street Journal.
So is it time to revisit the issue?
Jacoby & Meyers practices law in many states. Their New York lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges most of their clients are “those who cannot afford” expensive lawyers, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Thus, Jacoby & Meyers’ complaint alleges, the firm cannot raise capital to keep up in today’s technological law practice without reaching outside the legal profession “to exchange equity for capital.”
Jacoby & Meyers’ New York lawsuit prays for relief from New York’s Rule of Professional Conduct 5.4. The firm’s lawsuits in New Jersey and Connecticut make similar attacks on those states’ ethics rules, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Legal grounds cited by Jacoby & Meyers include the Dormant Commerce Clause, and the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the 14th Amendment.
Interestingly, the complaint also alleges class action status, on behalf of “all entities and persons licensed to practice law in the State of New York.”
Critics of the idea rely on familiar arguments regarding loss of confidentiality, loss of independence, conflicts of interest and possible loss of professionalism, reports the ABA Journal.
The ABA seeks input to its study group on the subject, the Ethics 20/20 Commission.
If the ABA, historical standard-bearer for the status quo, has started gathering facts, this issue might soon be sounding in a courthouse near you.
Iconoclasts like Ralph Nader broke loose and challenged certain elements of the legal hierarchy based on alliance with big corporations and big government, as did a very few criminal lawyers like Gerry Spence and, on a smaller scale, Edwin G. Morris of Austin, Texas, and on an admittedly much less successful scale, your current blogger here—Charles Edward Lincoln and his former associates and allies, most notably Francis W. Williams-Montenegro and Valorie Wells Davenport. But the truth is that the vast majority of licensed attorneys would bend over backwards rather than defy the most insanely unjust judges. I will never forget an occasion back in the 1990s when another attorney with whom I used to work, John F. Campbell, forcibly muzzled a prominent client who wanted to call a press conference to condemn the notorious, viciously cruel, dictatorial and unfair Austin/Travis County District Judge W. Jeanne Meurer after she summarily jailed his terminally-ill wife (suffering from several forms of cancer with a life-expectancy of less than a year) for default on child-support. Campbell quite honestly and directly explained that support for the judiciary was the key to his success as a lawyer, and that if he allowed his clients to criticize judges publicly, it would undermine his credibility as an attorney with those very same judges. In this one sentence one finds the complete explanation for why the profession of law has become so hopelessly corrupt and ineffective. (The story of “The Honorable” Jeanne Meurer ends with a mild slap on the wrist administered to her only after she retired, and revolved around a complaint filed by another group of monsterously abusive state employees, Child Protective Services operative—no one who has ever appeared before Judge Meurer could believe that this is there is any justice in the fact that this was the worst that has ever happened to her: http://www.statesman.com/news/local/retired-judge-admonished-for-ordering-adults-into-locked-544970.html).
I write all this as a man among whose proudest five legal achievements are: (1) to have worked in the chambers of two of the best and most outstanding Federal Judges of the late 20th century (namely Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th Circuit and Kenneth Ryskamp of the Southern District of Florida) and been close acquaintances with several more,
(2) to have been disbarred and indicted at the instigation of two of the worst Federal Judges in history (namely James R. Nowlin and Sam Sparks of the Western District of Texas)—
(3) the latter of those two horrendous Judges (namely Sam Sparks, who once dismissed a suit under the endangered species act with a poem, a really BAD poem) pronounced Atwater v. Lago Vista“the worst civil rights case he had ever seen not filed by a pro se prisoner writing in and from prison” in 1998, only to see the Court reach the U.S. Supreme Court and only lose, by a 5-4 vote and the spirited dissent of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor,
(4) to have been convicted on the most trivial of charges in 2000 and thereby giving up my license and then being sanctioned $150,000.00 in 2008 for “spearheading a movement to have the Texas Family Code declared unconstitutional” by one of the very strangest Judges in Texas history since Roy Bean, namely the Honorable Walter W. Smith of Waco, who had previously presided of the farcical Branch Davidian Trials where only the truly guilty murderers (members of the ATF & FBI who attacked David Koresh and Mount Carmel) were never charged with anything at all (and all this happened only after
(5) Judge James W. Clawson reversed himself in mid-trial at the behest of J. Randall Grimes, Mike Davis, Laurie J. Now and the Texas Attorney General had, in January 2006, sanctioned me $50,000.00 for trying to close down forever (and as the Honorable Judge Clawson himself admitted, very nearly succeeding in closing down) the Family Law Courts in Williamson County after a series of blood-curdling NKVD-KGB series of operations and kangaroo courts which would have shamed the most hardened technocrats of Stalin’s Soviet Union.
- Lawyers Say N.J. Firm-Ownership Restrictions Are Unconstitutional(CourthouseNewsService)
- Law Prof: Outside Ownership Could Help BigLaw” (ABA Journal)
- Attorney-Client Privilege: 3 Questions for In-House Counsel to Ask(Findlaw’s In House)
- Unauthorized Practice (FindLaw)