Mexico International Trade in Legal Services

Mexico International Trade in Legal Services

HOME COUNTRY LICENSING QUESTIONS

Is there legislation governing the legal sector

The Federal Law on the Practice of Professions in the Federal District (Ley Reglamentaria del Artículo 5o. Constitucional, Relativo al Ejercicio de las Profesiones en el Distrito Federal). 

Under what title do lawyers practise?

Abogado/a - usually translated as lawyer

How does an individual lawyer obtain a "licence" to practise law? How often must this be renewed?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under the Federal law, the requirements to practise law as a lawyer are as follows: have full legal capacity; have a university diploma from an institution authorized to issue legal degrees; and have a licence to practise the profession.  Lawyers are not required to become members of a Mexican bar association or of any other professional association.   In Mexico, qualified lawyers are those who hold a licence to practise as a lawyer, the ‘Cedula Profesional’.  Once awarded this licence does not need to be renewed.  There are two potential routes to this licence:
Route 1. Studying a bachelor’s degree in law at a Public or Private University whose programmes are recognised by a competent authority. The syllabus of the bachelor of laws are approved either by the  Secretaria de Educacion Publica (Ministry of Public Education) or a recognised public University. On average, a student takes between 4 and 5 years to complete the whole degree. After successfully completing the bachelor of laws and the ‘servicio social’ (mandatory work experience for the benefit of the Mexican community), students are provided with a Titulo Profesional (Degree Certificate) and can apply for the licence to practise which is called the ‘Cedula Professional’
Route 2. CENEVAL, Centro Nacional de Evaluacion para la Educacion Superior A.C. (National Centre for Higher Education Assessment). This route is set out by the 286/328 Agreement issued by the Ministry of Public Education for people who for any reason have cut short their studies, self-taught or people who studied abroad who intend to validate their foreigner degree to a Mexican one. To apply under this route, there are several requirements which must be fulfilled prior to application. Such requirements include age, good professional behaviour and applicants must have studied at least 70% of the bachelor’s degree. This route is comprised of three compulsory stages, including: (i) theorical tests; (ii) practical tests; and (iii) ‘servicio social’. After completing these three stages within a recognised university or institution, students are provided with a Titulo Profesional (Degree Certificate) and can apply for the licence to practise which is called the ‘Cedula Professional’.

Does this entitle the holder to practise throughout the country? If the law license only permits one to practice on a sub-national level, please explain the jurisdictional limits

Admission to the practice of law is national, and lawyers can practise in any state. However, a lawyer must be registered with a state registry in order to charge for the work he or she performs in that state and must have a licence if he or she wants to earn income in the Federal District.

Are there certain activities that are "reserved" to those who are licensed to practise law in the jurisdiction?

Only Mexican lawyers have rights of audience in court and can provide advice on Mexican law.

Do you need to hold local nationality to be eligible to practise law?

No

What legal forms can lawyers work in? (e.g. self employment, partnership, limited liability partnership, multi-disciplinary partnership, incorporation)

Lawyers may establish to practise as sole proprietors, in general partnership or may form companies. Most choose the form Civil Enterprise (Sociedad Civil, S.C.) which has no limits on number of shareholders and for which all of the shareholders have joint and several liability. Some foreign firms are established as LLPs.

What other ethical or regulatory requirements must a licensed lawyer comply with? 

Ethics and confidentiality rules are set out within the Criminal and Civil regulations in Mexico.  In addition, members of the (voluntary) Mexican Bar Association are bound by its Ethical Code.

Do law firms need to receive a "license" (or permission/approval) to practice law?

There is no explicit foreign law firm licensing regime which regulates these arrangements.

Which authority issues licences? Are there different authorities for individuals and firms? 

The federal Ministry of Education (Secretaría de Educación Pública, SEP) grants licences to lawyers

   

INDIVIDUAL FOREIGN LAWYERS

Are there any explicit rules or restrictions other than visas on fly in fly out practice of law? Ie. Do you need to obtain a licence for temporary practice?

There is no requirement to register for activities permitted on a fly-in, fly out basis.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a visa to visit clients or to market but not to practice?

A lawyer can apply for a business visa for marketing and general business development purposes, but must apply for a technical visa if planning to give technical or professional advice to public or private institutions.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a licence to establish and practise as a foreign legal consultant and what is the scope of this limited licence?

A foreign lawyer does not need to obtain a limited licence entitling him/her to offer advisory services in foreign and international law (i.e.. become a foreign legal consultant)

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled once a foreign lawyer has been granted a limited licence (e.g. residency requirement)

There are no additional requirements

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled for a foreign lawyer to qualify for a limited licence? (e.g. prior practice)

N/A

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation? Yes, foreign lawyers regularly intervene as advocates in arbitral proceedings in Mexico.

Are foreign lawyers allowed to appear in court under any circumstances?

No, not without requalifying

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?

 

 

 

A foreign lawyer can obtain a full licence to practise law in this jurisdiction. In order to re-qualify the foreign lawyer has three options: 1. Attend private or public university to study the subjects that the university establishes. Depending on the university part of his/her previous studies can be validated. 2. Attend a private university and study a "licenciatura ejecutiva" which takes 3 years, in which they can also validate part of the studies done abroad. 3. Take the CENEVAL.  Once the university has issued the certificate of validation the foreign lawyer is required to present the re-qualification of the degree before the Ministry of Public Education (Secretaría de Educación Pública). If the foreign lawyer has studied in the UNAM "Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico"
this university can issue the requalification of the degree.

FOREIGN LAW FIRMS

Can a foreign law firm obtain a licence to open an office?

There is no explicit foreign law firm licensing regime which regulates these arrangements. Foreign firms are permitted to establish a commercial presence (a permanent office) to offer advisory services in foreign and international law, provided that for foreign participation to establish a law firm beyond 49% requires a favourable resolution from the Foreign Investment National Commission (CNIE).

Even if a foreign law firm does not require a legal licence must they register in some form in order to set up an office? (e.g. with a ministry of company affairs etc)

The National Foreign Investment Commission (CNIE) oversees the registration of foreign companies in the Public Registry of Commerce and the establishment of foreign legal entities of a civil nature: http://www.economia.gob.mx/trade-and-investment/direct-foreign-investment/national-foreign-investment-commission
Are there different types of foreign law firm 'licence'  (e.g. Joint Law Venture, stand alone foreign licence etc)

Not applicable

Is there a quota on the number of licences available?

Not applicable

Are there geographical restrictions on foreign firm licences or on the number of branches a foreign firm can have?

Not applicable

Are there "scope of practice" rules that apply directly to foreign law firms (as opposed to lawyers themselves)? (e.g. home, host, international law), if so, what are they? Not beyond the requirements on individual foreign lawyers
Are there restrictions on the corporate form a foreign law firm can take? There are no additional requirements on law firms beyond those imposed on foreign companies in general.
Are there rules about the name a foreign law firm can take? There are specific rules relating to use of names by lawyers or law firms.  When establishing a commercial presence, the name must be approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  This requirement applies to local firms as well.
What entity grants a 'license' to a foreign law firm? If that entity is on the Internet, please provide the URL Not applicable
   

EMPLOYMENT AND PARTNERSHIP

Are there restrictions on the ownership share of foreign lawyers in a law firm?

Foreign firms are permitted to enter into commercial association with local lawyers or law firms, provided that for foreign participation to establish a law firm beyond 49% requires a favourable resolution from the Foreign Investment National Commission (CNIE) and that in order to practise local law, they have to hire local professionals.

May a domestic lawyer be employed by a foreign lawyer or law firm?

Yes

Can a domestic lawyer enter into partnership with a foreign lawyer?

Yes, foreign firms/lawyers are permitted to enter into commercial association with local lawyers or law firms, provided that for foreign participation to establish a law firm beyond 49% requires a favourable resolution from the Foreign Investment National Commission (CNIE) and that in order to practise local law, they have to hire local professionals.

Can a domestic lawyer or domestic law firm employ a foreign lawyer?

Yes

   

OTHER USEFUL LINKS/SOURCES

Other useful sources or comments or links

 

 

 

For links to licensing and representative bodies:

Barra Mexicana (Representative Bar Association): http://www.bma.org.mx/index.php

Ministry of Public Education (licensing authority): http://www.sep.gob.mx/