Law Society council says yes to MDPs

Multidisciplinary partnerships (MDPs) have been given the green light by the Law Society – but it could be years before they are introduced.

A Law Society spokesman says: “There's a lot of complicated issues that need to be worked through. It's not a simple little thing that will be done and dusted in a couple of months.”

He says legislation would be required before MDPs can be introduced and since “legislative opportunities are in the gift of the Government, it could take years”.

The Solicitors Act, for example, would have to be amended to enable the Law Society to enter an MDP office where a solicitor is suspected of dishonesty – current rules would allow non-solicitor partners to bar entry.

Another stumbling block is that research by the Law Society's MDP working party failed to throw up any “ready-made system” in other jurisdictions which could be adopted here.

A working party report says: “The issues facing the legal profession in the UK are unique: legal advice is not generally reserved to qualified lawyers and the Law Society's own regulatory powers are statute-based and therefore inflexible.”

The Law Society's move brings the UK into line with Australia and Canada. The American Bar Association has deferred a decision.

see Analysis, page 2