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Non-Lawyers Holding Interest in Law Firm

The District of Columbia stands out alone with a unique rule permitting non-lawyers to hold a financial interest or managerial position in a law firm, provided the sole purpose of the partnership is to provide legal services to clients; that the nonlawyers abide by the rules of professional conduct governing lawyers; and that lawyers accept responsibility for the actions of the nonlawyers. D.C. Rule 5.4(b).

D.C. Rule 5.4 (b), provides in part the following:

(a) A lawyer or law firm shall not share legal fees with a nonlawyer, except that:


(4) Sharing of fees is permitted in a partnership or other form of organization which meets the requirements of paragraph (b).

(b) A lawyer may practice law in a partnership or other form of organization in which a financial interest is held or managerial authority is exercised by an individual nonlawyer who performs professional services which assist the organization in providing legal services to clients, but only if: (1) the partnership or organization has as its sole purpose providing legal services to clients; (2) all persons having such managerial authority or holding a financial interest undertake to abide by these rules of professional conduct; (3) the lawyers who have a financial interest or managerial authority in the partnership or organization undertake to be responsible for the nonlawyer participants to the same extent as if nonlawyer participants were lawyers under Rule 5.1; (4) the foregoing conditions are set forth in writing.

Inside Non-Lawyers Holding Interest in Law Firm