From Richard Granat at his eLawyering Blog comes a helpful discussion on Axiom Law and Model Rule 5.4. He writes:
Some colleagues asked me that other day if I knew whether Axiom is a law firm. I said I didn't really know, so I decided to find out. There has been much buzz lately about AxiomLaw . The company recently raised $28,000,000 in private equity funding, after an initial round of $5,000,000.
AxiomLaw sounds like a law firm and has a domain name that makes it look like a law firm. When it describes itself it states that "it is not your father's law firm" or it is "a new model legal services firm."
But its not a law firm at all. The company's real name is Axiom Global, Inc., It is organized as a "C" corporation, and incorporated in the State of Delaware, just like any other company. (This explains of course how it can have investors).
Two final questions for consideration:
1. Should AxiomLaw be more transparent on its Web site about what kind of an organization it really is by making clear that it is not a law firm, and should it avoid comparisons with traditional law firms?
2. Maybe non-law firms like Axiom, with their access to capital and superior management and technological resources, should be able to offer legal services like a real law firm, but just make these new organization's subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct like any other law firm.
Of course, private investment in a law firm is prohibited by Model Rule 5.4, but maybe it's time that state bar associations recognize that there is a new kind of organization moving into the legal industry any way, so why not simply subject these new players to the same regulatory scheme as traditional law firms?
Would that level the playing field? Would that provide better consumer protection for both individual consumers and corporate purchasers of legal services?
You can read his full post here.