WSBA Editorial Advisory Committee
Allison N. Peryea, Chair
Scott T. Ashby
Dominic M. Carucci
James W. Gayton
Kurt E. Kruckeberg
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Does Law Need Investors?
The APR/MAY issue of NWLawyer
contained an Easter basket of suggestions
for amending or eliminating RPC 5.4 in
order to create innovation by drawing
in outside capital resources into the legal profession from non-lawyers and by
encouraging partnerships with other
professionals. I believe that these proposals are unwise and that they contain
a ticking time bomb that will further
erode the closeness of the client/lawyer
relationship and that to proceed in this
direction will undermine solo practitioners by turning law into just another
By assuming that the provision of legal services is analogous to other types
of consumption of goods and services,
the entire notion of lawyers as counselors and confidants is replaced by an
emphasis upon the law as a potential
money-maker for outside parties, a lucrative industry that investors would like
to subsidize for a piece of the action. It
is implied that lawyers are a rather dull
crowd after all and that technological improvements require outside people with
imagination to prime the pump and send
life-giving waters into the legal desert.
A brief review of the costs imposed
upon both doctors and patients by the
transformations that have turned medi-cine into a similar big business opportunity should give us pause as we ask
if attorneys can lower costs to clients
and thus access hidden markets of the
underserved by simply adding on as
partners investors seeking high levels of return on invested capital. How
long would it be before the courts were
swamped with new claims for recovery,
many of them relatively unmerited? A
legally saturated society would be even
more contentious than it already is. Part
of being an attorney is knowing when to