California Bar Journal
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 2001
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


REGULARS

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Front Page - August 2001
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News / News Briefs
MCLE deadline for Group 3 (last names N-Z) is Feb. 1
Judicial Council launches online self-help center
California lawyers honored for work for homeless, minorities and children
Coy about her future, Reno focuses on women's issues
No bias found against solos
Governor signs two-year fee bill
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Ethics update...
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Trials Digest
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Opinion
From the President - Bar targets unauthorized practice
Microsoft ruling: Foundation to settle
MJP is more than alphabet soup
Letters to the Editor
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Legal Tech - A look back at six years of technology news
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You Need to Know
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MCLE Self-Study
A word from our sponsors
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Discipline
Ethics Byte - Let's go surfin' now, everybody's learnin' how
Recovering alcoholic may get to recover his license
Attorney Discipline
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Public Comment
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MDP urged
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Continued from Page 1
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(MDP). By ushering in MDP, the report says, the State Bar can increase the public's access to justice while regulating relations among attorneys and nonattorneys with amended Rules of Professional Conduct.

The model chosen by the task force would allow the creation of one-stop shopping centers for clients in which accountants work with tax attorneys, scientists with patent lawyers, therapists with family law attorneys, civil engineers and real estate attorneys, and other such combinations. The idea is that clients would get lower-cost, efficient services under one roof while lawyers enjoy expanded business opportunities.

While the ABA's proposed models are welcomed by the California bar, its own task force met with much opposition last year, when the House of Delegates rejected the concept of MDP, calling it "inconsistent with the core values of the legal profession."

According to the bar's report, other states are divided on the issue: So far, 11 states have completed studies recommending some form of MDP, while another 15 have opposed the practice. Washington, D.C., currently is the only jurisdiction that has adopted a version of the ABA model.

Opponents of MDP fear that the partnerships will lead to ethics violations by reducing attorneys' abilities to exercise independent professional judgment, protect client confidentiality, remain loyal to clients in the face of other business interests or avoid conflicts of interest.

But proponents maintain that the tide has already turned, with Big Five accounting firms expanding their services into legal territory overseas.

"We know that in the European Union MDP is a growing part of their practice," State Bar President Palmer Madden said. "Because of international trade treaties, it may become difficult for us to take a different position on MDP than is taken in Europe."

And in the U.S, he said, some legal professionals are toeing the line. "It seems a number of law firms have been exploring MDP around the edges, getting as close as they can without crossing ethical boundaries," Madden said.

"To say that it is as sure as sunrise may be an overstatement, but that it seems to be the way the business is heading is certainly true."

The report maintains that ethical MDP can exist with the proper state regulations and a binding certification process. It also recommends the creation of a concise definition of what constitutes the practice of law and stricter enforcement of the unauthorized practice of law to protect consumers.

The MDP report was up for discussion at the board of governors' meeting in late July. If accepted, it will be subject to a 90-day public comment period, then returned to the task force for modification. It could be implemented within a year.