ABA Formal Opinion 464 and Nonlawyer Partners: If You Can’t Have One, Can You Work With a Firm ‎That Does?‎

In “ABA Formal Opinion 464 and Nonlawyer Partners: If You Can’t Have One, Can You Work With a Firm ‎That Does?” Zuckerman Spaeder LLP partner Thomas B. Mason and associate Rachel F. Cotton analyze ‎the many unresolved questions surrounding District of Columbia Rule 5.4(b), which permits lawyers to ‎practice law in a partnership in which a nonlawyer also has a financial interest—a rule that is ‎inconsistent with those in other legal jurisdictions across the country preventing nonlawyer ownership ‎of firms. Mason and Cotton point out that overall treatment of attorneys working for firms with ‎nonlawyer partners has not necessarily followed a steady trend. In addressing factors such as fee-‎sharing arrangements and practice privileges in other jurisdictions, bar association opinions on the ‎subject span the range of generally permissive to significantly restrictive. The authors conclude that ‎the newest opinion—ABA Formal Opinion 464, issued in August of 2013—straddles the inconsistencies ‎of the previous opinions and fails to resolve the issue.  ‎

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