MDP illegality probe by Canadian lawyers

A working committee of top Canadian lawyers is examining whether the current ban on multidisciplinary partnerships (MDPs) in Canada is illegal.

It is also drawing up a model of how MDPs should be regulated if the ban is lifted.

The committee, formed by last month's mid-winter conference of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, will report its findings in August.

The committee comprises of a representative from each of Canada's 13 law societies, as well as the Canadian Bar Association.

Changes in professional rules for lawyers can only be made by each individual law society. But in recent years the federation has become increasingly influential.

Lawyers were forced to confront the issue of MDPs after Ernst & Young announced its association with four-partner Toronto firm Donahue & Associates last year.

Although no other firm has followed, president of the federation, Gordon Mackay, said accountants had made numerous overtures to individual tax partners, inviting them to copy Robert Couzin's move from Toronto firm Stikeman Elliott to Ernst & Young's international tax consultancy practice last March.