The controversy over multidisciplinary practice continues to swirl around the District of Columbia. For years, the District, with its unique Rule 5.4(b), which permits lawyers to partner with nonlawyers in the delivery of legal services and to incorporate a non-law-firm trade name into the name of a law firm, has appeared to some to be a jurisdiction on the cutting edge of the future. To others, it has seemed to be teetering on the brink of professional disaster.
When the ABA Commission on Multidisciplinary Practice released its report in June 1999, the battle lines formed immediately. In favor of the panel’s sweeping recommendations were those who felt that economic convergence, consolidation, and globalization made multidisciplinary practices not only desirable but inevitable. Firmly opposed to this view, many traditional practitioners cautioned that MDP threatened the legal profession’s core values and would lead to the end of the practice of law as we know it. Developments since then have done little to resolve the problem.
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