The Australian state of New South Wales is close to finalising rules easing the restrictions on multidisciplinary partnerships and the incorporation of practices.
In particular, the NSW government's Legal Advisory Council has proposed allowing non-lawyers to take a larger stake in MDPs. At present, 51 per cent of net profits of an MDP must go to lawyers, a requirement which the council considered a barrier to the establishment of MDPs.
Ron Heinrich, president of the Law Society of New South Wales, said: 'We are moving to a situation where we are lowering the barriers dramatically.'
He added that he expected the professional body's council to support the MDP proposals when they came to vote in the next two months and that the new rules could be in force by the middle of the year .
The Legal Advisory Council also plans to simplify incorporation of practices by allowing firms to incorporate under Australia's corporations law.
Currently, incorporation is only possible under NSW's Legal Profession Act which, according to Heinrich, imposes 'a whole range of barriers'. A harmonisation of rules, he said, was welcomed.