Attorneys pressing Jacoby & Meyers’ attack on New York State’s ban on law firms accepting outside investment from non-lawyers may have gotten a ray of hope Oct. 5 during oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Attorney James Denlea, after getting hammered by the panel for insisting he had standing to challenge Rule 5.4 of New York’s Rules of Professional Conduct, sat back and watched with pleasure as Judge John Walker Jr. (See Profile) asked Assistant Solicitor General Won Shin why the case shouldn’t just be remanded with instructions to amend the complaint and solve the standing problem.
Calling the merits of the case “probably pretty easy,” Judge Gerard Lynch said, “It’s kind of a mystery to me why we are debating these rather arcane issues of standing.”
When Denlea walked back to the lectern and Walker raised the possibility of remanding the case to the district court to cure the standing defect, Denlea replied “That would be more than acceptable, your honor.”
In Jacoby & Meyers v. The Presiding Justices of the First, Second, Third and Fourth Departments of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, 12-1377-cv, Jacoby & Meyers claims the ban on outside equity investments in law firms violates the First Amendment and hinders the ability of small firms to expand and compete against larger firms.