Holland & Knight One-Stop Law Firm Opens Door to Ethical Concerns

In 1 on January 3, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Competition Sprouts One-Stop Law Firms; Diversification Means Higher Profits But Opens Door to Ethical Concerns

Need a private investigator? Try H & K Investigative Solutions. Want advice on how to win government subsidies for environmentally sound real estate projects? Turn to H & K Conservation Solutions. How about money management advice, a real estate feasibility study, evaluation of a merger or acquisition or documents translated into virtually any language in the world? H & K has business units to meet the need.

All of these enterprises, and several others, are not the work of some crazy-quilt conglomerate, but of a single law firm, Holland & Knight, based in Tampa, Fla.

''It was evident in the legal community four or five years ago that a multidisciplinary approach would be welcome by clients and was a cutting-edge issue,'' said Bill McBride, a managing partner at Holland & Knight. ''That's turned out to be correct.''

As competition among law firms has increased, associate salaries have skyrocketed and demand for ''one stop'' shopping has grown, a small but growing number of law firms are turning to nonlegal businesses as a way not only to serve their clients but also to lift the bottom line.

These businesses are the latest evolution in a legal market that has transformed law firms from small collections of general practitioners to highly specialized and global megafirms scrambling to generate more and more sources of wealth.

Firms engaged in such diversification have moved beyond the traditional fare of ''government relations,'' or lobbying, to a much broader array of businesses that were once entirely independent — everything from environmental consulting to human resources outsourcing, real estate title services to money management.

But some experts worry that the profession has not fully faced up to the potential consequences of this trend.

Advocates of this approach say that they can surmount any potential ethical concerns by ensuring that consultants and lawyers work on the same side of a transaction, and by carefully complying with rules that govern conflicts of interest and ethics.

Posted via email from HKLaw Investigation


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