The discussion about non-lawyers practicing law without a law license has been an ongoing debate but it usually focuses on non-lawyers providing legal advice. The Arizona Supreme Court has taken a different spin on the debate and has unanimously approved that non-lawyers such as paralegals can now own a stake in a law firm.
This ruling has eliminated the ethics rule 5.4, which bars non-lawyers from having an economic interest in a law firm, now creating new businesses called “Alternative Business Structures.” The court also instituted a new licensure process that will allow non-lawyers, called “legal paraprofessionals,” to begin providing limited legal services, including being able to go into court with clients.
The changes, effective as of Jan. 1st, “will make it possible for more people to access affordable legal services and for more individuals and families to get legal advice and help. The new rules will promote business innovation in providing legal services at affordable prices,” said Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Brutinel in a statement.