Can a Texas lobbyist form a Multi-Disciplinary Practice with lawyers to provide governmental relations services? Sadly, the current answer seems to be no.
The rule, Tex. Disc. Rule of Prof. Conduct 5.04, forbids lawyers from forming such practices, due to the prohibition against sharing legal fees, and conflicts. There are creative ways to skirt the danger:
Each profession in BLC maintains a separate business entity and charges
and collects its own fees for services rendered…. Thus, it appears to comply with the prohibition on fee sharing and partnerships.
Rees M. Hawkins, Not “If,” but “When” and “How”: A Look at Existing De Facto Multidisciplinary Practices and What They Can Teach Us About the Ongoing Debate, 83 N.C. L. Rev. 481, 512 (2005)(Describing the structure of Boston Law Collaborative).
Like lawyers, lobbyists are heavily regulated:
Lobbyists have a somewhat lighter
requirement, for they must manage a mere
seventeen forms, instructions, filing schedules, and guides.
Mark S. DesNoyer, In Through the Out-Door: Conflicts of Interest in Private-to-Public Service, Revolving Door Statutes, and Ethical Considerations, 5 Tex. Tech J. Tex. Admin. L. 113, 143 (2004) (ethics committee filings).
The U.S. Supreme Court has found that a (corporate) constitutional right to political speech cannot be curtailed:
The First Amendment protects more than just the individual on a soapbox and the lonely pamphleteer.
Citizens United v. Fed. Election Comm’n, 558 U.S. 310, 373, 130 S. Ct. 876, 917, 175 L. Ed. 2d 753 (2010).
The powers that be in Texas have looked at this:
The State Bar of Texas Task Force on MDPs asserts that to justify allowing MDPs, there must be empirical evidence that the public interest will be furthered.
Michael Kelly, Ethical Issues Associated with Multidisciplinary Practices in Texas, 41 St. Mary’s L.J. 733, 771 (2010).
It would seem that the Citizens United interest should be enough. As for potential conflicts of interest, politics has a way of shaking these out.