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Modern Law Firm Management and Non-Lawyer Ownership

In the context of modern law firm management, should non-lawyer ownership be endorsed or encouraged?

This topic is explored in a paper co-authored by Slater and Gordon Group Managing Director Andrew Grech and Director of Creative Consequences, Tahlia Gordon.

The paper was released following a presentation by Andrew Grech to the Commonwealth Law Conference held in Glasgow on April 13, 2015.

Part 1 of the paper discusses the concerns raised by critics of Alternative Business Structures about the diminution of core values and professionalism as a result of non-lawyer ownership of law firms. It is argued that these concerns are unfounded and not based on empirical evidence.

Part 2 considers how Australia, England and Wales have amended their legislation to allow non-lawyer ownership and have put in place regulatory frameworks to ensure ethics and professional standards are protected and encouraged.

Part 3 argues that in addition to a robust regulatory framework, law firms themselves can effectively mitigate any risks that ethics and professionalism will be eroded. Slater and Gordon provides a case study of how a law firm which is externally owned effectively safeguards ethics and professional standards

Part 4 considers the new landscape for legal services and the profession today - both the benefits for consumers and the challenges facing lawyers, particularly in relation to the emergence of unregulated service providers.

The paper concludes with a discussion about how these challenges also present valuable opportunities for lawyers to survive and thrive.

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