Newly Formed Law Firm Raises Questions

BY L. HAROLD LEVINSON

The Highlights item, “E&Y First in U.S. to Ally Itself With Law Firm,” ( JofA, Dec.99, page 4) reports that the new law firm of McKee Nelson Ernst & Young will be “fully independent,” and exempt from current fee-sharing restrictions because Ernst & Young has made a loan rather than an equity contribution.

Both conclusions are questionable.

If E&Y is not a partner in the law firm, the inclusion of its name in the new firm’s name raises questions under the rules prohibiting misleading and deceptive firm names. If, however, E&Y is a partner, questions arise under the rules on who may be a partner in a law firm.

In any event, your conclusion that the law firm will be “fully independent” is, to say the least, nave, as well as premature.

L. Harold Levinson
Professor of Law Emeritus
Vanderbilt University
Nashville

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