Canadian Bar Association National Magazine, December 4, 2014.
“Professor, I was wondering if you could tell us anything about the Chamber of Secrets,” said Hermione in a clear voice… “What exactly do you mean by the ‘horror within’ the Chamber?”
“That is believed to be some sort of monster…” said Professor Binns in his dry, reedy voice.
-J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
An alternative business structure (ABS) is a law firm that includes non-lawyers as investors, managers, or partners. Such arrangements are effectively forbidden throughout Canada today. However prominent voices, such as the CBA Legal Futures Initiative, are now calling for regulators to roll back these rules and welcome ABS firms to our legal landscape.
A future with ABS is a chamber of secrets, rumoured to contain both glittering treasures and savage monsters. The treasures may include enhanced access to justice for clients,and new innovation and flexibility for legal professionals. The value of these treasures cannot be known unless and until we roll back the regulation currently blocking the entrance to the chamber.
However many are reluctant to do so, because two monsters are also said to reside in the chamber. One of these beasts, it is said, eats legal ethics by corrupting lawyers. The other allegedly eats lawyers themselves, by stealing their clients.
While the treasures in the chamber are uncertain, the two monsters are entirely figmentary. Our regulators therefore have nothing to lose–and possibly a great deal to gain—from opening the door to alternative business structures
Full text here.