Have Your Cake and Eat It Too! Appropriately Harnessing the Advantages of Nonlawyer Ownership

In the United States, Model Rule 5.4 prohibits law firms from sharing fees with nonlawyers, concomitantly denying firms the benefits of outside investment enjoyed by other types of businesses. This rule serves several of the legal profession’s core values, primarily ensuring that lawyers are able to exercise their independent professional judgment.

But what if firms could have their cake and eat it too? What if there was a way to harness the benefits of nonlawyer ownership without undermining the values that Model Rule 5.4 protects? This Note evaluates a discussion draft released by the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 and uses it as a stepping stone toward constructing a more liberal model for nonlawyer ownership. The model proposed in this Note effectively addresses the ethical concerns regarding nonlawyer ownership while maximizing its benefits.