Once in a blue moon, something comes up that completely shocks and awes the legal world. Today, that something, in my humble opinion, is what our friends in England have created and called “Legal Disciplinary Practices” or “LDPs” for short.
In an article last month in Presswire entitled “Law firms to allow non-lawyers partners” (31 March 2009), the arrival of the LDP is heralded as an access to justice vehicle which will reform legal services in the UK. The UK’s Ministry of Justice’s website has the official news release here.
LDPs allow for non-lawyer ownership of the firm and for law firms to be listed on the stock exchange. This is both new and exciting. According to the article, this will “encourage more effective competition and these firms will be able to provide a range of legal services to consumers, increasing access to justice”.
Imagine if you will, a lawyer teaming up with a realtor, accountant, marketing consultant, and financier to offer a range of legal and related services on a competitive playing field. That hasn’t happened in Canada to date because of archaic rules (drastically in need of reform). See my previous blog about Multi-Disciplinary Partnerships and Affiliations being too onerous for lawyers to take advantage of.
In England, the advent of the LDP is part of larger access-to-justice reforms that started a few years ago with the Legal Services Act (which gained Royal Asset on October 30, 2007). The Act established a single, independent and publicly accountable regulator over te legal sector (the Legal Services Board), a single and independent Office for Legal Complaints, and alternative business structures to allow everyday people to obtain services from businesses that bring together lawyers and non-lawyers.