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There are fast-food franchises and rust-proofing franchises. Now, would you believe law-office franchises? American Law Centers Association (ALC) will soon start franchising law offices, with sights set on becoming a nationwide network. The franchised offices will be operated by lawyers, each of whom will have access to computerized research offered by the franchiser.

Chains of legal clinics -- such as Jacoby & Meyers, with offices in California and New York -- have been around for several years. But these are operated as branches of a single firm.

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ALC plans to make its move this spring, and its ads should hit the national airwaves by the e nd of the year.m

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