March 16th, 2011 by Jim Cotterman
Today’s PinHawk Law Technology Daily Digest had an intersting item regarding recently proposed legislation in North Carolina. A bill, Allow Nonattorney Ownership of PC Law Firms, would provide for minority ownership (up to 49%) of law firms and accounting firms by any individual. The bill further requires that the respective licensees “own and control voting stock that represents at least fifty‑one percent (51%) of the votes entitled to be cast in the election of directors of the professional corporation.” The section applicable to law firms also sets out a priority of interests in the case of conflicts between the interests of owners, clients and the court: The stock certificates or other written evidence of ownership of any nonlicensee shall bear the following language, in at least 12-point type: ‘No nonlicensee shareholder shall interfere with the exercise of professional judgment by licensed attorneys in their representation of clients. If there is an inconsistency or conflict between the duties to the court, to clients, and to shareholders, then that conflict or inconsistency shall be resolved as follows:
1. The duty to the Court shall prevail over all other duties.
2. The duty to the client shall prevail over the duty to shareholders.’
This will be an interesting bill to follow.