The New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics was asked whether lawyers may enter into a business relationship with a United Kingdom entity under the following circumstances. The U.K. entity would be formed as an Alternative Business Structure under the U.K.’s Legal Services Act, which permits entities with non-lawyer supervisors and owners to render legal services. The entity would include U.K. non-lawyers in supervisory and ownership positions, raise capital in private equity financing, and have a professional management team. The New York lawyers would establish a New York office, where they would represent New York clients. They would be employees of the U.K. entity and would hold stock options and, in some cases, vested shares in the U.K. entity. Lawyers in the New York office would adhere to confidentiality rules and would not share confidences with U.K. non-lawyer managers. The entity would adhere to U.K. rules as well.
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