From a global perspective, the composition of legal practice components is undergoing tumultuous change. The concept of multidisciplinary practice has been embraced in many countries, where lawyers partner with non-lawyers and offer both legal and non-legal services. Less well received are alternative business structures, where lawyers and non-lawyers are permitted to be partners, and outsiders are permitted to be investors, in entities that offer legal services. The move away from the traditional law practice has sparked spirited and diverse debate, especially in European Union [EU] countries where trade in services is an essential component.
A primary concern of the opposition was the compromise of the core values of the legal profession. However, while the debate on alternative business structures continues, it is of interest that in those countries where the practice is embraced, no adverse effect from outside investors has been reported. If this continues to be the case, and if these business configurations give lawyers a competitive advantage, it is likely that the naysayers may be more open to innovation and the development of these new paradigms.
Citation: Hill, Louise L., Alternative Business Structures for Lawyers and Law Firms: A View from the Global Legal Services Market (2017). Oregon Review of International Law, v. 18, 2017; Widener University Delaware Law School Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 17-14.