Fri, 24 May 2013
Exploit the power of digital with The Lawyer Acumen
The Lawyer Acumen is a comprehensive online resource giving everyone in the legal market real-time business intelligence on the sector.
26 July 1999
A decision on MDPs will have to be made by the Law Society, hopefullysooner rather thanlater, although it is fair to say that the Law Societycannot have been much helped bythe poor response to the discussion paper.The arguments continue, but all have a commonthread. On one side of thedebate are the traditional lawyers who believe that MDPsshould be banned.They raise three objections:Unauthorised practice of law. Rules andstatutes generally seek to protectthe public against the practice of law by individualswho are not licensed.The argument here is: what constitutes the practice of law? In theUK thishas been addressed by identifying service areas as either reserved tolawyers orunreserved, in which case either non-lawyers or lawyers canperform them so long as thestatus of the non-lawyer providers is disclosedto the client.Lawyer independence. Thisis a practice rule issue which deals with theprohibition of splitting fees orprofit-sharing. This can well be arguedalong the lines that there is no difference infinancial considerations inmulti-disciplinary practices than in wholly-owned practiceson alawyer-client relationship.Conflict of interest. Here the argument is that MDPspresent conflicts ofinterest based on the differences in the fundamental roles andfunctionsbetween auditors and lawyers. Auditors have to whistle blow but lawyers,ofcourse, are obliged to secure client confidentiality. Supporters of MDPsargue that lawfirms frequently represent clients with conflicting interestby obtaining waivers fromclients and building Chinese walls. Lawyers canown ancillary businesses so why can theynot in business in an MDP havesimilar Chinese walls between themselves and theirco-owner?On the other side of the argument are those organisations which considerthatMDPs are an essential way of moving forward and just plain commonsense.MDPs could wellbe the saviour of the small local law firm, particularlythose with specialisms whichcould enter into a perfectly valid businessarrangement with a non-lawyer to provide theone-stop shop to local people.Obviously decisions will be made but the profession inthis country shouldwake up to the realisation that MDPs are not some two-headed monsterbutactually a business opportunity which should be embraced and allow firmsboth smalland large to move forward into the 21st century.Attempts to ban MDPs, as seem to beindicated in the World TradeOrganisation discussion, are seen as nothing more asretention of thestatus quo and therefore the creation of a system ofeconomicprotectionism. As such, I believe the banning of MDPs is certain to fail.BrianMarson, Marsons Solicitors
View All Related Briefings
Subscribe to The Lawyer today and get all the latest news stories, both domestic and global, and analysis of the legal sector.
A subscription includes:
The latest legal news, opinion, analysis, jobs and events. Wherever you are, whenever you need it.
Let us help you with an integrated approach to mobile and online advertising.
Site powered by Webvision