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Can a non-attorney own a law practice?

I found a law practice in the state of Florida that I am very interested but I am not an attorney. The owner has told me that you have to be an attorney in the state of California in order to own a law practice. I live in California and would be a non-working owner. Would it be possible to own this business since I live in California, not Florida? Or could I possibly change the business' official address to my address in California and keep the Florida office open as a branch? Any advice would be appreciated.

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Answers (3)
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No.
At least in every state I know of. The only exceptions I know of are gov't service and in-house legal counsel. But not actual law firms with more than 1 client.
Two rules prohibit it.

1) Rule 5.4 of Professional Conduct provides that "[a] lawyer shall not permit a person who recommends, employs, or pays the lawyer to render legal services for another to direct or regulate the lawyer's professional judgment in rendering such legal services."

2) most states also have another Rule which prohibits sharing legal fees with non-lawyers.

Aug 6, 2010
Joseph DiBello
Vested Business Brokers
Career Development Officer/Broker
Suffolk County, NY

Yes, as long as he stays away from practicing law, he can have attorneys working for him, just like large corporations have attorney working on there payroll

Aug 6, 2010
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The BAF Group LLC
MD

I don't know the answer to that question. However, the more fundemental question is: Is it a wise purchase for you, and a non-attorney?

This may be a purely, personal opinion, but I have a real problem seeing someone purchase a business for which he/she is in no way qualified to act as an operational portion of the workstaff, IF the workstaff is small and specifically trained. Certainly, if you have a large staff and one person on that staff leaves, you may not suffer financially. But if you have only one or two attorneys in the company, and one of them leaves, you lose 33% to 50% of your income, until you replace the loss. And you have no ability to jump into the breach and shore up the loss? How welll do you know the remaining attorneys? How are they going to take it that a non-attorney is going to be their boss? How long before they jump ship?

I would be EXTREMELY careful with this.

Aug 5, 2010

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