STATE BAR OF ARIZONA
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")
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
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
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
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.