04 September 2020

Arizona opens the door for non-lawyers to invest in law firms and provide legal advice to clients

Arizona has approved the possibility of non-lawyers owning a law firm. On the other hand, it has also opened the door for non-lawyers to provide legal advice to their clients.

The Arizona Supreme Court on Thursday ruled to remove the rule that prevented non-lawyers from having a financial interest in a law firm or participating in fee allocation.

"The court's goal is to improve access to justice and to encourage innovation in the delivery of legal services," Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Brutinel said in a statement.

In order for this measure to take place, businesses and non-lawyers must comply with a code of conduct, which requires them to have the services of an in-house compliance lawyer. One of the reasons for this measure is the arrival of capital to operators in the legal sector.

In addition, Arizona allows professionals to advise clients in lawsuits. For this purpose, there are legal paraprofessionals, who will be known as "LP" and will practice as affiliated members of the State Bar. 

The Arizona Supreme Court said that those interested in becoming LPs "would have to meet education and experience requirements, pass a professional skills test and pass a character and aptitude process".

Arizona is not the first state to implement this measure, as Washington allowed non-lawyers to provide legal advice.

"The State Bar is ready to help the court implement these changes in a way that protects the public," said Denis Fitzgibbons, president of the State Bar of Arizona.

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