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Lawline v. American Bar Association

956 F.2d 1378 (1992)

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Lawline v. American Bar Association

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

956 F.2d 1378 (1992)

Facts

The Illinois Supreme Court and United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (N.D. Ill.) adopted American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Responsibility 5.4(b), prohibiting lawyers from partnering with nonlawyers if the partnerships’ activities included the practice of law, and 5.5(a), forbidding lawyers from assisting laypersons in the unauthorized practice of law. Thomas Holstein was managing director and supervising attorney of Lawline (collectively, Lawline) (plaintiffs), an association of lawyers, paralegals, and laypersons. Lawline answered legal questions gratis and referred the public to agencies and lawyers who charged reduced fees. Lawline sued the ABA and Illinois and Chicago bar associations (collectively, bar associations), the justices and committees of the Illinois Supreme Court, and N.D. Ill. executive-committee members (collectively, courts) (defendants) for money damages, alleging that (1) the ethics rules resulted from a conspiracy between the bar associations and courts to monopolize the provision of legal advice in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act; (2) certain ethical opinions of the bar associations were anticompetitive; and (3) the ethics rules deprived Lawline of its First Amendment, due-process, and equal-protection rights in violation of § 1983 of the 1871 Civil Rights Act. The district court dismissed Lawline’s claims. Lawline appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cummings, J.)

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