Lawsuits filed by Jacoby & Meyers challenging state prohibitions on nonlawyers owning interests in law firms have added fuel to the debate over how to protect the interests of clients should American law firms ever be allowed to accept outside investment.

In virtually identical lawsuits filed Wednesday in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, Jacoby & Meyers casts its challenge as client-friendly, claiming the ban on nonlawyer investment denies firms the ability to raise outside capital, denying most lawyers “a critical source of funding” that “dramatically impedes access to legal services for those otherwise unable to afford them.”