Legal Ethics

OK nonlawyer ownership of firms, says Canadian bar

In a report published Thursday, the Globe & Mail reports, the Canadian Bar Association recommended that nonlawyers be able to own law firms.

The suggestions were detailed in Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada (PDF). The CBA is a voluntary group, and the Canadian legal profession is regulated by various provincial and territorial law societies.

“What lawyers do is as crucial as ever, but how we do it needs to be updated and quickly,” said Fred Headon, an assistant general counsel at Air Canada and president of the Canadian Bar Association.

The Law Society of England and Wales in 2007 opened up law firm ownership, the Financial Post reports. It’s also allowed in Australia. Three Australian law firms—Slater & Gordon, Shine Corporate and ILH Group—are publicly traded companies.

If the recommendation is implemented, lawyers and accountants could start businesses together, and large retailers could open storefront law offices.

“There is plenty of opportunity for firms of all sizes to embrace this, and for new organizations to embrace this as well,” Headon said.

According to National magazine, a publication of the CBA, the report makes other recommendations as well. The recommendations include debt forgiveness for lawyers who work with communities that don’t have enough lawyers, and law schools considering prospective students’ life experiences in the admissions process.

See also: “Is Wal-Mart law coming to the US? Retailer adds lawyers on site for Toronto-area shoppers”

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