Navigating the Sea Change in Law Firm Finance and Ownership in the U.S.

Document Type

Blog Post

Publication Date



Wolters Kluwer




For years, Australia and the U.K. have been the pioneering jurisdictions regarding ownership of law firms. Now, there’s a new kid on the block. Recent developments in a few U.S. states, predominantly Arizona, and a new approach by the American Bar Association (ABA) signal a broad reexamination of the long-entrenched prohibition on non-lawyer participation (ownership and management) in law firms. Regulation of American lawyers and law firms takes place at the state level, with regulatory innovations in one state often inspiring others. It is unsurprising, therefore, that other states are already following Arizona and actively considering making similar changes. If the precedent of the global rise of third-party funding is any guide, the changes in the U.S. will likely lead to an acceleration of non-lawyer participation in the practice of law globally. This post surveys and analyzes the recent changes in the U.S., identifies some of their likely effects on international arbitration, and concludes with a call for action to the international arbitration community and, in particular, arbitral institutions.

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