According to the N.J. Law Journal:
“ABA COMMISSION SHELVES NON LAWYER OWNERSHIP POLICY CHANGE
The American Bar Association’s Commission on Ethics 20/20 announces it will not recommend policy changes to allow non lawyer ownership of law firms. Commission co-chair Jamie Gorelick said Monday that feedback received from the legal community “expressed concerns about the ability to maintain professionalism when lawyers and non lawyers are partners.” Since 1991, Washington, D.C., has been the only jurisdiction to allow non lawyers such as financial officers or lobbyists to own pieces of law firms. The draft floated by the commission would have been more restrictive than D.C.’s rules, which require non lawyer partners to provide a client service. This was to ensure that private investors did not influence legal decisions that might be to the detriment of clients.”
Call me old fashion, but I hate the thought of non lawyers having any ownership interest in law firms. Law is a profession where its members are held to higher ethical standards than non lawyers. While non lawyers disparage lawyers, and laugh at not very funny “lawyer jokes,” where does the business code of ethical conduct live that controls the behavior of business people? And who enforces this secret Code, besides the criminal justice system?
I guess each company is entrusted to enforce its own ethical standards.
[Larry’s note: Today, Sunday April 22, 2012…The NY Times broke a sensational story about the bad behavior of Walmart at the highest executive levels. The NY Times alleges Walmart:
“In September 2005, a senior Wal-mart lawyer received an alarming e-mail from a former executive at the company’s largest foreign subsidiary, Wal-mart de Mexico. In the e-mail and follow-up conversations, the former executive described how Wal-mart de Mexico had orchestrated a campaign of bribery to win market dominance. In its rush to build stores, he said, the company had paid bribes to obtain permits in virtually every corner of the country…”
The NY Times wrote about Wal-mart’s initial decision to refer this serious matter to outside, independent, counsel:
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act