The May 5, 2014, article in this column (“Lawyer Regulation: Walking Backward Into the Future”) contrasted the changes in the way legal services are provided in England and Wales (under the regulatory regime adopted there in 2007) with New York’s traditionalist approach. The May 5 article focused on the establishment in England of an entirely new framework to encourage the development of innovative ways in which legal services might be provided, namely that, subject to appropriate regulation, legal services can be provided by entities that include non-lawyer investors and owners, and non-lawyer partners. These entities are known as alternative business structures (ABS).
The first ABS entities were approved to operate in March 2012, and as of the date of writing the May article, 266 such entities had been approved and were operating. As of this article, that number has risen to 301.1 And yet both lawyers and their bar associations in the United States generally, but also in New York specifically, have continued to downplay the significance of the changes taking place in England, and in Australia as well.
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