Goldman Sachs has been in the news a lot lately and The New York Times has covered it well. Taken together, several articles suggest parallels to big law. Anyone wondering where many large law firm leaders want to take their institutions — and how they might get there — should look closely at Goldman. As law firms have embraced metrics that maximize short-term partner profits, they’ve moved steadily in Goldman’s direction. If America follows Australia and the U.K. in permitting non-attorneys to invest in law firms, a tipping point could arrive.
Others ponder this possibility. Professor Mitt Regan, co-director of the Georgetown Center for the Study of the Legal Profession, has been thinking, writing and speaking thoughtfully about non-lawyer investment in law firms for a long time. Understandably, most academic observers focus on the outside — how smaller firms’ access to capital could affect competition, the interaction with attorneys’ ethical obligations and the like.
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