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The return of multi-disciplinary practice?

Multi-disciplinary practice may be back. Maybe.

More than 10 years ago, the Virginia State Bar slammed the door on allowing lawyers to collaborate and share business ownership with related non-lawyer professionals.

A VSB special committee suggests the bar take a new look.

The VSB Study Committee on the Future of Law Practice has, for the time being, back-burnered proposed relaxation of the statutes and rules that bar attorneys from going into business with accountants and other related professionals.

But recommendations for such changes are in a “preliminary report and discussion paper” that remains under discussion at the committee, according to the panel’s president Allen C. Goolsby of Richmond.

The panel is considering expanding the study’s scope to focus also on other trends, including the impact of technology on the practice of law, said VSB Ethics Counsel James M. McCauley.

Also on the horizon are concerns about the state of legal education and the proliferation of online-based services that provide legal documents.

“The Committee has heard from some solo practitioners and members of small firms that their principal source of competition today is non-lawyers,” the discussion paper reads.

The VSB Council resoundingly rejected a proposal to allow a form of multi-disciplinary practice in 2002.

The concept was tarnished that year by the Enron scandal and the role of the Arthur Anderson accounting firm in the business collapse.


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