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Rotunda in ABA Journal: Rules Change When Economic Pressure is Applied

Responding to news of an Australian personal injury firm becoming the first publicly traded law firm in the world, Professor Ronald Rotunda told the ABA Journal that changes allowing U.S. law firms to tap into lucrative financial markets could occur in the future.

Currently Rule 5.4 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct specifically forbids lawyers from forming partnerships with nonlawyers or sharing an interest in a law firm with them. Citing the District of Columbia as a jurisdiction that "changed its rules so nonlawyers could be part of a firm and the world didn't collapse," Rotunda said, "It's hard to say anything is inevitable, but throughout the history of the law, the rules have changed when economic pressure is applied." He added, "I used to think there was a natural limit to the size of a law firm because of conflicts of interest, but now you've got 1,000 attorneys in offices around the world. You can't pretend law firms here aren't influenced by international trends any more."

Selling Law on an Open Market, ABA Journal, July 2007. By Jason Krause.

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