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Main Street Multidisciplinary Practice Firms: Laboratories for the Future

Abstract

Although the ABA rejected multidisciplinary practice in 2000, the debate about their desirability and feasibility continues. This Article examines the debate over multidisciplinary practice and suggests that the debate so far has been both too narrow and too broad. It has been too narrow because it has focused primarily on the large accounting firms and law firms. It has been too narrow because it has been assumed that if MDPs were allowed, it would be by virtue of a one-size-fits-all rule. Professor Poser argues that client demand, lawyer demand, and policy all provide valid reasons for permitting small-scale, Main Street MDPs, and that a rule could be devised which permitted small MDPs but not large ones. These small-scale, or "Main Street" multidisciplinary firms would provide improved service to clients without endangering the core values of the legal profession. Professor Poser proposes permitting small-scale multidisciplinary practice, on a state-by-state basis and suggests principles that would guide the States in defining and regulating these firms. The author argues that permitting such firms would meet client demand for improved, integrated service, while also allowing state bar associations to determine if larger-scale multidisciplinary practice is feasible, based on the experience of smaller firms.

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