The Law Society council has voted in a secret meeting to ask the profession to choose a range of models for the way multidisciplinary partnerships (MDPs) should be regulated.
The society has so far officially had an 'open mind' on the issue of allowing lawyers to share profits with other professionals. A working group, chaired by Sam Wilson, has been looking at the issue for the past year.
The council voted to allow the policy committee to draw up a consultation paper which will be circulated to all lawyers in England and Wales in September or October.
There are six models for allowing MDPs ranging from the Law Society regulating a firm in which solicitors are the majority owners, to the other extreme of a completely mixed partnership in which only the individual solicitors within the firm are regulated by the Law Society.
The consultation paper will have to wait until after a profession-wide consultation on what to do about the controversial Solicitors Indemnity Fund and its deficit.
Richard Hegarty, a member of the MDP working party, said: 'It's happening anyway some of the big accountancy firms are effectively MDPs already. We don't want to be in a position where we don't control what goes on.'
He said the consultation should be a chance to educate the profession about MDPs.