If the ongoing legal fracas between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Securities and Exchange Commission over the controversial independent chairman rule illustrates anything, experts say, it's that the mutual fund industry has entered an entirely new era in rulemaking.

"This is the first step of a very large, mature industry," said Frank Coates, founder of Coates Analytics Group and Board Alert Systems of Conshohocken, Pa., which specializes in providing governance tools to the fund industry.

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