Larry RIbstein lights up the ABA’s decision not to permit non-lawyer ownership of law firms.
More important is what the ABA move would do about the cost of legal services: nothing. The non-lawyer ownership ban has been enacted and maintained by and for lawyers as a way of banning lower-cost provision of legal advice. Under current rules, many middle class consumers have no reliable reasonably priced way of getting basic legal advice. The UK rule permitting law practice by alternative business structures was promoted by consumers. It lets consumers buy legal services from the same businesses (e.g., Tesco) whose brands they trust for many other products and services. It is a way of bridging the huge current divide between supply and demand for legal services by ordinary non-corporate consumers.
In any event, as discussed in my Death of Big Law and my and Kobayashi’s Law’s Information Revolution, big changes are coming to legal services as a result of significant technological developments and global competition. The responsible position by the profession would be to try to manage these developments in ways that protect consumers, as in the UK and Australia.