Interesting news from the US, where 'limited licence legal technicians' in Washington state are to be allowed to become minority owners of law firms.
This new breed of legal professional is allowed to advise clients in approved areas of law, and there are going to be a range of restrictions placed on their ownership rights. But taken with the District of Colombia, which has long been the only place in the US to allow non-lawyer partners, is it a sign that hardcore American opposition to forms of alternative business structures is weakening, if only a little?
And of course, as first reported on Legal Futures last week, we now have the first American law firm ABS.
The American Bar Association (which sets model rules which individual states can choose to adopt) has looked at ABSs before and not taken them further. But it has been unable to ignore them, despite the wish of many in the US, I suspect, and they are on the agenda of its Commission on the Future of Legal Services.
It will take a considerable time, but barring some disaster befalling ABSs over here, I reckon the ABS ball will only gather pace in the US.
The only state in the nation that allows limited license legal technicians to help civil litigants has gone a step further with a new change to its ethics rules. The change will allow the legal technicians in Washington state to share fees with lawyers and become minority owners of law firms