In nearly every state, the ethical rules prohibit the ownership of law firms, and the sharing of profits, with non-lawyers. The District of Columbia has a modified version of Rule 5.4 that permits such arrangements. Though, it is somewhat unclear what happens when such a firm attempts to do business in other states.
The firm’s services are not entirely unique, but its ownership structure is. McDevitt is not a lawyer — from 2002 to 2012, he was chief executive of Owings Mills-based weight loss company Medifast — and the District is the only jurisdiction that allows law firms to share profits with non-lawyers. In all other states, McDevitt would have to be salaried.
I’ve been surprised that legal analytics firms haven’t taken advantage of D.C.’s alternate rule structure to get around Rule 5.4.