New York State Bar Association: Report of the Task Force on Nonlawyer Ownership
New York State, one of the world’s most significant legal centers, has traditionally played a prominent role in the evolution of the law governing lawyers. In particular, New York has been influential in developing the law applicable to the structure and operation of law firms. Law firms are the vehicles through which essential legal services are provided to the public, and the integrity of their ownership and organization is indispensable to maintaining the effective delivery of those services.
At the turn of the twenty-first century, the New York State Bar Association (“NYSBA”) established the MacCrate Committee and charged it with studying the existing law governing law firm structure and considering whether there was a need for any changes in the law. In 2000, that Committee issued the MacCrate Report, a seminal and expansive document that contained an appraisal of the American legal profession as of 2000 and discussed in detail nonlawyer involvement in the practice of law. The MacCrate Report opposed the adoption of a 1999 American Bar Association (“ABA”) proposal that would have permitted nonlawyer ownership of law firms. NYSBA subsequently adopted a resolution that nonlawyer investment in law firms should continue to be prohibited and joined several other state bar associations in a successful effort to oppose nonlawyer ownership proposals that camebefore the ABA’s House of Delegates.