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Globalized Legal Profession: Non-Lawyer Ownership and Third Party Investment in Lawyers’ Earnings (Program)

Peter Joy, Washington University School of Law (US) (Moderator); Adrian Evans, Monash University Faculty of Law (Australia); Anthony Sebok, Cardozo Law School (US); Louise Hill, Professor of Law, Delaware Law School of Widener University (US); and Sundeep Aulakh, University of Leeds (UK)

Globalized Legal Profession: Non-Lawyer Ownership and Third Party Investment in Lawyers’ Earnings

Non-lawyer ownership of law firms and third party investment in lawyers’ earnings are hotly debated issues in the USA. At the same time, many other countries, including some that share a more or less common law tradition with the USA, permit non-lawyer investment in and ownership of law firms.  This contrasts to the vast majority of jurisdictions in the USA in which law firms must be owned by lawyers and in which lawyers may not share fees with non-lawyers. This panel will compare and contrast alternative business structures and litigation funding in the global legal services market. It will also examine the ways USA law firms are obtaining non-lawyer investment in anticipated profits.  Panelists will consider the ethical issues associated with non-lawyer ownership of law firms, whether non-lawyer ownership and third party investment in lawyers’ earnings undermine the ethics of firm lawyers, and whether firm structures in jurisdictions that permit non-lawyer ownership and sharing of lawyer fees may soon have an advantage over lawyers in jurisdictions that prohibit such participation by non-lawyers.

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