USA - Minnesota International Trade in Legal Services

United States of America - Minnesota International Trade in Legal Services


Is there legislation governing the legal sector

MINNESOTA STATUTE, Chapter 481 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 meet the requirements of the Rules for Admission to the Bar, have an LLB or JD, satisfy character and fitness to practice requirements, and have passed the bar exam in Minnesota or met the practice requirements for admission on motion.   Licenses are renewed annually through the Lawyer Registration Office.

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 Minnesota. 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?








Subdivision 1. Prohibitions.
It shall be unlawful for any person or association of persons, except members of the bar of Minnesota admitted and licensed to practice as attorneys at law, to appear as attorney or counsellor at law in any action or proceeding in any court in this state to maintain, conduct, or defend the same, except personally as a party thereto in other than a representative capacity, or, by word, sign, letter, or advertisement, to hold out as competent or qualified to give legal advice or counsel, or to prepare legal documents, or as being engaged in advising or counselling in law or acting as attorney or counsellor at law, or in furnishing to others the services of a lawyer or lawyers, or, for a fee or any consideration, to give legal advice or counsel, perform for or furnish to another legal services, or, for or without a fee or any consideration, to prepare, directly or through another, for another person, firm, or corporation, any will or testamentary disposition or instrument of trust serving purposes similar to those of a will, or, for a fee or any consideration, to prepare for another person, firm, or corporation, any other legal document, except in the specific cases provided for in the Minnesota Statutes (see

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

There is no requirement for US citizenship to obtain a license to practice law in Minnesota

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, or in a professional firm or corporation. Fee sharing with non-lawyers is prohibited.

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

The Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct, which are modelled on the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct (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? 

Licences are issued by the State Supreme Court:



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 Minnesota would need to be fully admitted to the Minnesota 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?

Yes - A foreign lawyer can obtain a licence to become a foreign legal consultant (see the Minnesota Rules for Admission to the Bar, available online at  This FLC licence entitles the holder to practise home country law and international law to the extent it is incorporated in home-country law, the practice of 3rd-country law and Minnesota law is not permitted, except that a foreign legal consultant who is employed by a single corporation or entity may practice law as a foreign legal consultant without the limitations that govern other foreign legal consultants.  See Rule 11E (2) of the Rules for Admission to the Bar of Minnesota

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

Ongoing adherence to the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct.

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

Licensure is subject to meeting requirements of registration, a minimum age of 26 years, an experience requirement (5 of the 7 years preceding registration must have been spent practising law), certification of registration and good standing with home-country bar.

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation?

Yes.  A law license is not required to undertake arbitration and mediation in Minnesota. 

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

 Minnesota Statutes § 481.02, Sub. 6. Attorneys of other states.

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?


A foreign lawyer cannot obtain a full licence to practise law in this jurisdiction, unless the foreign lawyer has a JD or LLB from a law school fully or provisionally approved by the American Bar Association and meets either the Bar exam or admission on motion requirements for admission to practise in Minnesota, as set forth in Rules for Admission to the Bar.  See provisions of Rules 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.  The relevant impediment is Rule 4A (3), which requires graduation from an ABA accredited law school with a JD or LLB degree.
In order to obtain a full licence to practise law in this jurisdiction, foreign lawyers must have a JD or LLB degree from an ABA approved law school.  In addition, admission may be based on a passing score and a Minnesota Bar exam or admission in another US jurisdiction and at least five years of a licensed practice.  Further, the applicant must meet other requirements of the Minnesota Rules for Admission to the Bar.


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

In order to offer advisory services in foreign and international law, a foreign legal consultant is not required to but may enter a commercial association with local lawyers.

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?


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? Foreign name is permitted
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?


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




Other useful sources or comments or links


Verified by

Minnesota State Board of Law Examiners and the Minnesota Office of Lawyer Professional Responsibility (December 2013)