USA - Maine International Trade in Legal Services

United States of America - Maine International Trade in Legal Services


Is there legislation governing the legal sector

Maine Revised Statutes, Title 4, Chapter  17: ATTORNEYS AT LAW

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 a bachelors degree and  a JD, satisfy character and fitness to practice requirements, and have passed the bar exam.

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 Maine. The right to practise on a temporary basis in another state or to appear pro hac vice in another state depends on the explicity permission of that state.

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
















Board of Overseers of the Bar v. Mangan, 763 A.2d 1189 (Me. 2001)
The Maine Bar Rules do not explicitly state what constitutes the "practice of law," nor have we ever defined what constitutes the "practice of law."
The term "practice of law" is a " 'term of art connoting much more than merely working with legally-related matters.' " Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland v. Shaw, 354 Md. 636, 732 A.2d 876, 882 (1999) (quoting In re Application of Mark W., 303 Md. 1, 491 A.2d 576, 585 (1985)).
"The focus of the inquiry is, in fact, 'whether the activity in question required legal knowledge and skill in order to apply legal principles and precedent.' " Id. (quoting In re Discipio, 163 Ill.2d 515, 206 Ill.Dec. 654, 645 N.E.2d 906, 910 (1994)). Even where " 'trial work is not involved but the preparation of legal documents, their interpretation, the giving of legal advice, or the application of legal principles to problems of any complexity, is involved, these activities are still the practice of law.' " Shaw, 732 A.2d at 883 (quoting Lukas v. Bar Ass'n of Montgomery County, 35 Md.App. 442, 448, 371 A.2d 669, 673, cert. denied, 280 Md. 733 (1977)).
[¶ 14] In Shaw, 354 Md. 636, 732 A.2d 876, 882 (1999), the court noted that the practice of law includes " '[u]tilizing legal education, training, and experience [to apply] the special analysis of the profession to a client's problem.' " (quoting Kennedy v. Bar Ass'n of Montgomery County, Inc., 316 Md. 646, 662, 561 A.2d 200, 208 (1989)). The Shaw court further noted that "[t]he Hallmark of the practicing lawyer is responsibility to clients regarding their affairs, whether as advisor, advocate, negotiator, as intermediary between clients, or as evaluator by examining a client's legal affairs." Shaw, 732 A.2d at 883 (quoting In re Application of R.G.S., 312 Md. 626, 632, 541 A.2d 977, 980 (1988)).
[¶ 15] . . . .
As attorneys' roles increase in complexity and overlap with other professions, the answer to [the question of what constitutes the practice of law] will continue to evolve. Ultimately, the question will turn on the specific facts of the work undertaken and the understanding of the parties.
. . . .
[¶ 16] The determination of what constitutes the practice of law is very fact specific

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

US citizenship is required for practice before the US Patent and Trademark Office

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

A lawyer may practise as a sole practitioner, in a general or limited liability partnership. Fee sharing with non lawyers is prohibited.

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

The Maine code of professional conduct which is modelled on the ABA model code (see:

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

Not from the Court but 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? 

Not from the Court but may be subject to other notification requirements depending on the form taken (e.g. limited liability company) and the local State code.



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?

Foreign lawyers are not permitted to provide fly-in fly-out services, this is only permitted to lawyers from other US states (see Professional Conduct rule 5.5 on Unauthorized Practice of Law)

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 wishing to practise law on a fly in fly out basis in Maine would need to be fully admitted to the Maine Bar or to the Bar of another US State. '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?

No - There is no FLC licensing regime in Maine.

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

Not applicable

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

Not applicable

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation?

A foreign lawyer can serve as an arbitrator or mediator.  A foreign lawyer may not represent a party in an arbitration or mediation in Maine unless an exception applies that would permit the foreign lawyer to practice law in Maine without being admitted in Maine. 

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


Court rules permit visiting U.S. lawyers to practice in particular actions on certain conditions.

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?


A foreign lawyer who is not otherwise qualified for admission on motion may take the Maine bar exam if the lawyer satisfies the educational (and, if applicable, the active practise) requirements of Maine Bar Admission Rule 10(c).  For more information on the equivalency of foreign legal education, see


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

Not applicable

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?

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 applicable
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? Not applicable
What entity grants a 'license' to a foreign law firm? If that entity is on the Internet, please provide the URL Not applicable


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?

Not applicable

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

Not applicable

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

Not applicable



Other useful sources or comments or links

Maine Board of Bar Examiners:
Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar:

Verified by

Maine Board of Bar Examiners (January 2014)