Jacoby & Meyers, which is pushing for nonlawyer ownership of law firms in the United States, has established an affiliated firm in London with plans to expand into Europe. Jacoby, with more than 130 offices in the United States, announced this week the formation of Jacoby & Meyers Europe Limited, a joint venture between the U.S. firm and MJ Hudson in London, led by Matthew Hudson, who formerly led the London offices of O'Melveny & Myers and Proskauer Rose.

The new firm plans to open offices in Europe for practices such as family law, personal injury, criminal defense and small business formation, said Keith Givens, of Jacoby & Meyers. It will also offer products online, such as legal forms. "If someone wanted a last will and testament, we could deliver that service to them for $30 or $40 as opposed to having to pay hundreds of pounds" for a lawyer, Givens said.

Jacoby will be the first U.S.-based consumer law firm to expand internationally, Givens said, and it plans to acquire other firms or networks of lawyers in major European countries. Over time, "we anticipate hundreds of locations and hundreds of lawyers," he said.

Jacoby & Meyers has filed lawsuits in the United States to allow nonlawyers to invest in law firms. That litigation is pending. A recent U.K. law permits law firms to accept external equity investment. Givens said it is likely Jacoby & Meyers Europe will apply for this status. "Our ability to raise the capital necessary to serve the public is severely restricted in the United States by an outdated Rule of Professional Conduct. Now a significant part of our growth strategy will be based in London," Len Jacoby, founding partner of Jacoby & Meyers, said in a statement.