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http://www.azbar.org/AttorneyResources/mdp_recommends.cfm

 

STATE BAR OF ARIZONA
MULTIDISCIPLINARY PRACTICE
RECOMMENDATIONS
May 19, 2000

 

                      The Supreme Court of Arizona regulates lawyers and anyone else who provides
                      legal services to protect the public from unqualified providers and to assure
                      public confidence in the integrity, competence, and accountability of the legal
                      system. Under this Constitutional mandate, the State Bar of Arizona assumed
                      the responsibility of addressing the issue of multidisciplinary practices. The
                      following are the findings and recommendations of the State Bar of Arizona.

 

                      RESOLVED that the State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors ("Board") created
                      the Task Force on the Future of the Profession ("Task Force") to consider the
                      issue of multidisciplinary practices ("MDP"). This issue arose from the
                      American Bar Association's Commission on MDPs proposal to amend the
                      Rules of Professional Conduct to permit lawyers both to share legal fees with
                      non-lawyers and to have non-lawyers as equity owners/partners/shareholders in
                      law firms or other entities that provide legal services, which proposal will be
                      voted upon by the ABA House of Delegates this July. The MDP issue also
                      arose from inquiries by Arizona lawyers who expressed an interest in
                      participating in an MDP entity. Such MDP firms would provide both legal
                      services and other professional services to their clients. As used in these
                      recommendations, the term "lawyer" means any individual subject to Arizona
                      Supreme Court jurisdiction for practicing law, pursuant to Supreme Court Rules
                      31(a)(3), 33, and 46.

 

                      In order to determine how the State Bar should respond to the ABA
                      Commission's MDP recommendations, the Task Force held town hall meetings
                      and/or video presentations for Bar members about the MDP issue in Phoenix,
                      Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff, Yuma, Globe, Bisbee, and Kingman. Additional
                      presentations will be held in Safford and St. Johns. The Task Force received
                      comments and input from lawyers and non-lawyers throughout the state as well
                      as from the Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct and the Consumer
                      Protection Committee.

 

                      The Task Force recommendations are approved by the Board as follows:

 

                         1.Recognize that multidisciplinary practices already exist de facto in the
                           United States, including in Arizona.
                         2.The Bar and the Court must participate in the regulation of legal services
                           delivered by lawyers in MDPs to assure that clients who receive those
                           legal services receive the levels of professionalism and protection as
                           clients of lawyers who are not in MDPs.
                         3.Reaffirm that lawyers and others providing legal services must abide by
                           the Rules of Professional Conduct whenever they are providing those
                           services, regardless of their practice setting receive.
                         4.Require lawyers to take reasonable steps to ensure that any entity
                           through which they provide legal services ensures that non-lawyers do
                           not engage in the delivery of legal services unless authorized to do so by
                           the Supreme Court of Arizona.
                         5.Clarify the definition of the "practice of law" as used in Supreme Court
                           Rule 31(a)(3) and the definition of "legal services" to include: preparing
                           legal documents, giving legal advice, negotiating legal matters for a
                           client, or representing a person in a court or administrative proceeding.

                         6.Modify the Rules of Professional Conduct, specifically ER 5.4, to permit
                           non-lawyers to have an ownership or equity interest (but not passive
                           investment) in firms that engage, at least in part, in providing legal
                           services, as long as the lawyers have sufficient authority to protect client
                           interests and maintain their ethical obligations.
                         7.Require lawyers in MDPs to provide legal services clients with written
                           disclosures regarding the different duties of confidentiality (and/or
                           disclosure) that each profession in the MDP must follow.
                         8.Require lawyers in MDPs to provide legal services clients with written
                           disclosures about the financial benefit that the lawyer will derive if the
                           legal services client engages the services of other professionals in the
                           firm and that legal services clients are not obligated to use the other
                           professionals in the MDP and are free to retain the services of
                           professionals outside of the MDP.
                         9.Require that a lawyer in an MDP must consider all clients of the MDP as
                           clients of the lawyer for conflict purposes.
                        10.Continue to encourage all lawyers and any other authorized legal service
                           providers to provide pro bono assistance.
                        11.Assure that the Rules of Professional Conduct continue to require
                           lawyers to maintain all of their ethical obligations including maintaining
                           the confidentiality of all information related to the lawyers'
                           representations and exercising their independent professional judgment.
                        12.Provide educational programs for lawyers regarding their ethical
                           obligations when working in any practice setting, including MDPs.
                        13.Provide public service programs about the regulation of legal services in
                           Arizona.
                        14.Prohibit MDPs from providing to a legal client both legal services and any
                           other professional services (such as auditor functions) that may have an
                           affirmative duty of disclosure that would conflict with the lawyers' duty of
                           confidentiality.
                        15.Direct further review of the MDP issue, particularly with respect to: a)
                           evaluating specific modifications of the Rules of Professional Conduct; b)
                           clarifying who may provide legal services under the Supreme Court's
                           jurisdiction; and c) considering the availability of and need for liability
                           coverage for MDPs to protect the public and whether such coverage
                           should be mandatory.
                        16.Approve the Recommendations in the May, 2000 Final Report of the
                           ABA's Commission on MDP.