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USA - Georgia International Trade in Legal Services

United States of America - Georgia International Trade in Legal Services

HOME COUNTRY LICENSING QUESTIONS

Is there legislation governing the legal sector

The governing of the practice of law falls under the inherent powers of the Supreme Court of Georgia.  There is legislation in aid of the Court’s inherent powers found at Title 15 Courts, Chapter 19 Attorneys, Section 19.  (O.C.G.A. 15-19-1 through 15-19-58.)

Under what title do lawyers practise?

Attorney at law

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

An attorney or lawyer must receive a license from the Supreme Court of Georgia. In order to do so, an individual must have a bachelor’s degree, an LLB or JD from an ABA approved law school, satisfy character and fitness to practice requirements, and have passed the bar examination and multistate professional responsibility examination (MPRE). The full fitness, educational and testing requirements are found at https://www.gabaradmissions.org/rules-governing-admission.
No renewal of this license is required.

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

This only automatically entitles the holder to practise in Georgia. The right to practise on a temporary basis in another state or to appear pro hac vice in another state depends on the explicit permission of that state.

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

 

 

 

 

Only persons holding a license may give legal advice. Subject to certain situations where the pro se exception applies only holders of the license may engage in representation in criminal and civil court proceedings.
The “Practice of law” is also defined in Georgia's Code as follows "(1) Representing litigants in court and preparing pleadings and other papers incident to any action or special proceedings in any court or other judicial body; (2) Conveyancing; (3) The preparation of legal instruments of all kinds whereby a legal right is secured; (4) The rendering of opinions as to the validity or invalidity of titles to real or personal property; (5) The giving of any legal advice; and (6) Any action taken for others in any matter connected with the 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)

Persons who are authorized to practice law in this State are hereby authorized to practice law as sole proprietorships or as partners, shareholders, or members of:
Partnerships under O.C.G.A. § 14-8-1 ET. seq.; or
Limited liability partnerships under O.C.G.A. § 14-8-1 et. seq.; or
Professional corporations under O.C.G.A. § 14-7-1 et. seq.; or
Professional associations under O.C.G.A. § 14-10-1 et. seq.; or
Limited liability companies under O.C.G.A. § 14-11-100 et. seq.
See http://www.gabar.org/barrules/handbookdetail.cfm?what=rule&id=13.Fee sharing with non-lawyers is prohibited.
 

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

 Lawyers must comply with Ethical and Professional Rules, see, http://www.gabar.org/barrules/ethicsandprofessionalism/index.cfm  
and State Bar Governance Rules, see, http://www.gabar.org/barrules/handbook.cfm

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

No

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

Licenses are issued by the Supreme Court of Georgia.  Firms are not licensed.

   

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?

Rule 5.5 adopted by Georgia Supreme Court on June 8, 2004 allows temporary practice of law by foreign lawyers. See http://www2.state.ga.us/Courts/Supreme/amended_rules/6_8_2004_order.htm

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

 

 

Under the WTO commitments of the USA, an individual could practise law on a fly in fly out basis in Georgia provided they meet the requirements of the Georgia Bar for temporary practice. In addition. 'Service salespersons' are permitted to enter the USA for periods of up to 90 days. "Service salespersons" are "persons not based in the territory of the United States and receiving no remuneration from a source located within the United States, who are engaged in activities related to representing a services supplier for the purpose of negotiating for the sale of the services of that supplier where: a) such sales are not directly made to the general public and b) the salesperson is not engaged in supplying the service" Entry for persons named in this section is limited to a ninety-day period.

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes.
(a) A person licensed to practice as a foreign law consultant under this Rule may render legal services
in this State subject, however, to the limitations that he or she shall not:
(i) appear for a person other than himself or herself as attorney in any court, or before any magistrate or other judicial officer, in this State;
(ii) prepare any instrument effecting the transfer or registration of title to real estate located in the United States of America;
(iii) prepare: (a) any will or trust instrument effecting the disposition on death of any property located in the United States of America and owned by a resident thereof, or
(b) any instrument relating to the administration of a decedent's estate in the United States of America;
(iv) prepare any instrument in respect of the marital or parental relations, rights or duties of a resident of the United States of America, or the custody or care of the children of such a resident;
(v) render professional legal advice on the law of this State, or of any other United States jurisdiction, or of the United States of America (whether rendered incident to the preparation of legal instruments or otherwise) except on the basis of advice from a person duly qualified and entitled (otherwise than by virtue of having been licensed under this Rule) to render professional legal advice in this State;
(vi) be, or in any way hold himself or herself out as, a member of the bar of this State; or
(vii) carry on his or her practice under, or utilize in connection with such practice, any name, title or designation other than one or more of the following:
(a) his or her own name;
(b) the name of the law firm with which he or she is affiliated;
(c) his or her authorized title in the foreign country of his or her admission to practice, which may be used in conjunction with the name of such country; and
(d) the title "legal consultant," which may be used in conjunction with the words "admitted to the practice of law in [name of the foreign country of his or her admission to practice].”
(b) A person licensed to practice as a legal consultant under this Rule may render legal advice regarding matters which are governed by international law, the law of the foreign country where the applicant is admitted to practice, or the law of a non-United States jurisdiction.

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

An FLC licensed in Georgia must abide by the code of conduct of the State Bar of Georgia.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Section 1. General Regulation as to Licensing of Foreign Law Consultants
A person who meets the following qualifications may apply to the Georgia Office of Bar Admissions for licensing as a Foreign Law Consultant. The applicant must:
(a) be a member in good standing of a recognized legal profession in a foreign country, the members of which are admitted to practice as attorneys or counsellors at law or the equivalent and are subject to effective regulation and discipline by a duly constituted professional body or a public authority;
(b) for at least five of the seven years immediately preceding his or her application have been a member in good standing of such legal profession and has actually been engaged in the practice of law in the said foreign country or elsewhere substantially involving or relating to the rendering of advice or the provision of legal services concerning the law of the said foreign country;
(c) possess the good moral character and general fitness requisite for a member of the bar of this State;
(d) intends to practice as a legal consultant in this State.
Section 2. Proof Required
(1) a certificate from the professional body or public authority in such foreign country having final jurisdiction over professional discipline
(2) a letter of recommendation from one of the members of the executive body of such professional body or public authority or from one of the judges of the highest law court or court of original jurisdiction of such foreign country;
(3) a duly authenticated English translation of such certificate and such letter if in either case, it is not in English;
(4) a letter of recommendation from at least two (2) active members of the State Bar of Georgia
(5) such other evidence as to the applicant's educational and professional qualifications, good moral character and general fitness.

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation?

Yes if, on a temporary basis the Foreign Lawyer performs services in this jurisdiction that:
are undertaken in association with a lawyer who is admitted to practice in this jurisdiction and who actively participates in the matter;
are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential proceeding before a tribunal held or to be held in a jurisdiction outside the United States if the Foreign Lawyer, or a person the Foreign Lawyer is assisting, is authorized by law or by order of the tribunal to appear in such proceeding or reasonably expects to be so authorized;
are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential arbitration, mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution proceedings held or to be held in this or another jurisdiction, if the services arise out of or are reasonably related to the Foreign Lawyer's practice in a jurisdiction in which the Foreign Lawyer is admitted to practice;
are not within paragraphs (2) or (3) and
are performed for a client who resides or has an office in a jurisdiction in which the Foreign Lawyer is authorized to practice to the extent of that authorization; or
arise out of or are reasonably related to a matter that has a substantial connection to a jurisdiction in which the lawyer is authorized to practice to the extent of that authorization; or
are governed primarily by international law or the law of a non-United States jurisdiction.

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

Georgia permits foreign lawyers to appear pro hac vice.

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?

The Supreme Court amended its admission rules on December 12, 2002 to allow admission by motion.
(Reciprocity and fee required). (Approved by Bar on April 5, 2003)

 

FOREIGN LAW FIRMS

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

There are no separate licensing requirements for law firms. An FLC is permitted to open an office

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)

Not applicable

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?

No

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? No
Are there restrictions on the corporate form a foreign law firm can take? Not applicable

Are there rules about the name a foreign law firm can take?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lawyer shall not use a firm name, letterhead or other professional designation that violates Rule 7.1.
A law firm with offices in more than one jurisdiction may use the same name in each jurisdiction, but identification of the lawyers in an office of the firm shall indicate the jurisdictional limitations on those not licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where the office is located.
The name of a lawyer holding public office shall not be used in the name of a law firm, or in communications on its behalf, during any substantial period in which the lawyer is not actively and regularly practicing with the firm.
Lawyers may state or imply that they practice in a partnership or other organization only when that is the fact.
A trade name may be used by a lawyer in private practice if:
The trade name includes the name of at least one of the lawyers practicing under said name. A law firm name consisting solely of the name or names of deceased or retired members of the firm does not have to include the name of an active member of the firm; and
The trade name does not imply a connection with a government entity, with a public or charitable legal services organization or any other organization, association or institution or entity, unless there is, in fact, a connection.
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?

No

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

Yes - this is explicitly mentioned in the USA's schedule of specific commitments on legal services

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

Yes - this is explicitly mentioned in the USA's schedule of specific commitments on legal services

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

Yes

   

OTHER USEFUL LINKS/SOURCES

Other useful sources or comments or links

 

Verified by

Georgia State Bar Association (November 2013)