Arizona Takes Step to Scrap Rule That Keeps Big Four Out

An Arizona task force is urging the state’s supreme court to end restrictions on nonlawyer co-ownership of law firms to close the “access to justice gap,” which could crack open the door to the Big Four accountancies.

News Story (Arizona, NATIONAL)

Sam Skolnik
Bloomberg Big Law Business
October 7, 2019
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Tags: Access to Justice


DETAILS

The Arizona Task Force on the Delivery of Legal Services in an Oct. 4 report requested the removal of state bar Rule 5.4, the “explicit barrier” to lawyers and nonlawyers co-owning businesses that engage in the practice of law.

“A sentiment that resounded within the workgroup was that lawyers have the ethical obligation to assure legal services are available to the public,” the 157-page report concluded, “and that if the rules of professional conduct stand in the way of making those services available, then the rules should be changed.”

The Arizona panel’s actions are part of a growing movement of state and national bar groups currently acting to loosen or repeal law firm ownership and related regulations. Big Law leaders have expressed concern about the trend, which could allow the Big Four—EY, Deloitte, KPMG, and PwC—and other alternative legal service providers to take a more direct competitive stance against U.S. law firms, especially if several larger states adopt such changes.