Arizona Adopts the New Alternative Business Structure (ABS)

Arizona has officially become the first state to offer an Alternative Business Structure (ABS). The new structure was first defined in August 2020. As of April 2021, the state Supreme Court approved several applications for this new structure. The new structure is specifically for nonlawyers who want to provide legal services.



The Basics of the New Structure


As previously mentioned, companies with the new Alternative Business Structure (ABS) can provide certain legal services despite not being lawyers. However, it only applies to a specific group of people. Those nonlawyers must have either a decision-making authority or economic interest in a firm and provide legal services. Those services must follow the relevant Supreme Court Rules, which are 31 and 31.1(c). 



Why Arizona Offers the ABS Structure


The explanation from the Task Force on the Delivery of Legal Services outlines the purpose of the new program. The goal is for nonlawyers and lawyers to work together to pilot business forms. Hopefully, the alternative business structure will improve access to legal services and justice. 



Applications Already Approved


As of April 2021, the Supreme Court of Arizona had already approved applications for three companies. These include Trajan Estate, LLC; Payne Huebsch, PLC; and MLR Professional Tax Services, LLC. In October, the Supreme Court also approved LegalZoom’s application. 


The Committee on Alternative Business Structures handles the approval process. That process involves carefully reviewing the licensing applications. That committee features 11 court-appointed members and was created in August 2020 when the ABS entity type was announced.