The Arizona Supreme Court has approved the first three entities to be licensed as alternative business structures, enabling businesses owned by non-lawyers to deliver legal services under the liberalized licensing rules the court approved last August.
On March 17, 2021, the court entered orders approving two ABS entities:
- Trajan Estate, LLC, a legal service provider focused on estate planning. The two principles are Kent Phelps, an Arizona lawyer since 1996, and Jeffery B. Junior, CEO of Trajan Wealth, a company that provides financial services to consumers. Phelps and Trajan Wealth had a prior relationship in which they referred clients to one another. (Court order approving application.)
- Payne Huebsch, PLC, a firm that provides transactional legal services combined with tax and accounting advice. It is owned by Payne Law PLC and Huebsch Financial LLC, which are controlled by Michael Payne, a lawyer and CPA, and Chad Huebsch, respectively. With its approval as an ABS, Payne Huebsch is adding legal services to the accounting and tax services it already provided. (Court order approving application.)
Subsequently, on April 22, the court approved the license of another applicant, MLR Professional Tax Services LLC. Formed in 2014 to provide accounting and tax services, it will add legal services in the areas of trust, probate and corporate transactional, and operate under the new name Arete Financial LLC. Two of the company’s three owners are lawyers.
Applications to be licensed as an ABS must first be reviewed and approved by the Committee on Alternative Business Structures. The committee’s recommendations are then sent to the Supreme Court for final approval or rejection.
Last August, the court approved sweeping changes to the rules governing the delivery of legal services in Arizona, becoming the first state to eliminate the ban on nonlawyers having ownership interests in law firms and the prohibition on sharing legal fees among nonlawyers and lawyers.