USA - Hawaii International Trade in Legal Services

United States of America - Hawaii International Trade in Legal Services

HOME COUNTRY LICENSING QUESTIONS

Is there legislation governing the legal sector

HAWAII REVISED STATUTES 2012, DIVISION 4. COURTS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS, TITLE 32. COURTS AND COURT OFFICERS, CHAPTER 605 -ATTORNEYS

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 individual must have an LLB or JD, complete and submit a Hawaii bar application, the National Conference of Bar Examiners-Hawaii, Character and Fitness application and pay required fees all by the requisite deadlines.  For on-line information see http://www.courts.state.hi.us/legal_references/bar_application.html
In addition, applicants must meet all requirements for admission to the Hawaii bar pursuant to the Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii and the Hawaii Board of Bar Examiners Rules of Procedure.  For further on-line information see http://www.courts.state.hi.us/legal_references/rules/rulesOfCourt.html   
Upon taking and passing the bar examination an individual can be licensed to practice law in the State of Hawaii.  As a unified jurisdiction, attorneys must also comply with requirements set forth by the Hawaii Bar Association.  For on-line information see  http://www.hsba.org/

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

Passing the Hawaii bar examination grants the attorney permission to practice only in the Hawaii state courts.  The right to practice in other states is determined by that state’s eligibility requirements.  To be eligible to practice in the United States District Court, District of Hawaii, there is a separate registration and fee requirement.

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

An individual cannot practice law in this jurisdiction in any form or field without a license to do so, granted by the Hawaii Supreme Court (see above).

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

No, local nationality is not required to practice law in Hawaii.  Any Hawaii bar applicant must meet all requirements for admission pursuant to the Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii and the Hawaii Board of Bar Examiners Rules of Procedure.  For on-line information see http://www.courts.state.hi.us/legal_references/rules/rulesOfCourt.html

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

Any attorney licensed to practice law in this jurisdiction may work in a form that is in compliance with the Rules of the Supreme Court which includes the Hawaii Rules of Professional Conduct and all applicable statutes and the requirements set forth by the Hawaii State Bar Association.  For on-line information see http://www.courts.state.hi.us/legal_references/rules/rulesOfCourt.html and http://www.hsba.org/   

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

An attorney licensed to practice in Hawaii has a continuing obligation to comply with the Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii in its entirety, which includes the Hawaii Rules of Professional Conduct, which is modelled on the ABA model code.  For on-line information seehttp://www.courts.state.hi.us/docs/court_rules/rules/rsch.htm

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

Law firms must comply with all relevant Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii in its entirety, which includes the Hawaii Rules of Professional Conduct and any applicable statute(s).  For on-line information see http://www.courts.state.hi.us/docs/court_rules/rules/rsch.htm
A law firm may be subject to other notification requirements depending on the form taken (e.g. limited liability company) and the local State code.
 

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

A license to practice law is conferred on individual attorneys by the authority of the Supreme Court of Hawaii.  The individual attorneys who practice law whether as a sole practitioner or as a “firm” have a continuing obligation to comply with the Rules of the Supreme Court in its entirety which includes the Hawaii Rules of Professional Conduct.  For on-line information see http://www.courts.state.hi.us/docs/court_rules/rules/rsch.htm

   

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 are no rules allowing temporary practice by foreign lawyers or attorneys from other U.S. jurisdictions except for U.S. attorneys through pro hac vice status, through association with an attorney licensed in Hawaii.  See Rule 1.9 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii.  For information on-line see http://www.courts.state.hi.us/docs/court_rules/rules/rsch.htm#Rule_1.9

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

 

 

Foreign lawyers would not be able to obtain visas to practise law in Hawaii which may include discussing legal matters with a client or providing legal advice to the client within this jurisdiction. It is possible that they may qualify under the USA's WTO commitments as "service salespersons" if they 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 person who is admitted to practice in a foreign country as an attorney or its equivalent may render services as a foreign law consultant pursuant to Rule 14 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii.  The Scope of Practice is also specified in this rule.  For on-line information see http://www.courts.state.hi.us/docs/court_rules/rules/rsch.htm

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

Yes, each person licensed to practice as a foreign law consultant must comply with the Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii in its entirety which includes the Hawaii Rules of Professional Conduct, and any applicable statutes.   For on-line information see http://www.courts.state.hi.us/docs/court_rules/rules/rsch.htm

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

Yes, see Rule 1.3(b) (3) and Rule 14 of the Hawaii Rules of the Supreme Court.  For on-line information see http://www.courts.state.hi.us/docs/court_rules/rules/rsch.htm

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation?

Any person interested in undertaking arbitration or mediation must consult the rules and/or policies of the individual organizations within a jurisdiction.  Requirements can vary depending on the agency and the stakeholders involved

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

 

No, a foreign lawyer must be an attorney licensed to practice in Hawaii as set forth above before being allowed to appear in court.  For on-line information seehttp://www.courts.state.hi.us/docs/court_rules/rules/rsch.htm andhttp://www.courts.state.hi.us/docs/court_rules/rules/hbbe.htm

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?

 

Yes, any foreign attorney who meets the requirements and is subsequently admitted to the Hawaii bar pursuant to the Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii, specifically Rule 1.3(b)(3), the Hawaii Board of Bar Examiners Rules of Procedure and is in compliance with the Hawaii State Bar Association will be allowed to practice law in Hawaii. http://www.courts.state.hi.us/legal_references/rules/rulesOfCourt.html and  http://www.hsba.org/

FOREIGN LAW FIRMS

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

Law firms must comply with all relevant Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii in its entirety, which includes the Hawaii Rules of Professional Conduct and any applicable statute(s).  For on-line information see http://www.courts.state.hi.us/docs/court_rules/rules/rsch.htm
All attorneys belonging to a law firm must be licensed to practice in Hawaii as set forth above.
A law firm may be subject to other notification requirements depending on the form taken (e.g. limited liability company) and the local State code.

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)

Certain State, County or Federal business registration and other applicable requirements may apply.

Are there different types of foreign law firm 'licence'  (e.g. Joint Law Venture, stand alone foreign licence etc)

No

Is there a quota on the number of licences available?

No

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?

Yes, see Rule 6 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii.  For on-line information see http://www.courts.state.hi.us/docs/court_rules/rules/rsch.htm

Are there rules about the name a foreign law firm can take? The naming convention for any law firm is pursuant to Rule 7.1 through 7.5, of the Hawaii Rules of Profession Conduct, which governs duties concerning attorney advertisements and firm names.  For on-line information see http://www.courts.state.hi.us/docs/court_rules/rules/hrpcond.htm#Rule_7.1
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?

Not applicable

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?

Any lawyer, foreign or domestic, must be an attorney licensed to practice in Hawaii, as set forth above, before entering into any partnership. 

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

Not as an attorney without duly obtaining permission, in compliance with the Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii, the Hawaii Board of Bar Examiners Rules of Procedure and the Hawaii State Bar Association.  For on-line information seehttp://www.courts.state.hi.us/legal_references/rules/rulesOfCourt.html and  http://www.hsba.org/

   

OTHER USEFUL LINKS/SOURCES

Other useful sources or comments or links

For information on Hawaii Rules of Court see: http://www.courts.state.hi.us/legal_references/rules/rulesOfCourt.html  
For information on Hawaii State Bar Association see  http://www.hsba.org/
 

Verified by

Judiciary Office of the Chief Clerk, State of Hawaii (January 2014)