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USA - Montana International Trade in Legal Services

United States of America - Montana International Trade in Legal Services


Is there legislation governing the legal sector


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 JD from an ABA approved law school, 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 Montana. 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?







37-61-201. Who considered to be practicing law. Any person who holds out to the public or advertises as an attorney or who appears in any court of record or before a judicial body, referee, commissioner, or other officer appointed to determine any question of law or fact by a court or who engages in the business and duties and performs acts, matters, and things that are usually done or performed by an attorney at law in the practice of that profession for the purposes of parts 1 through 3 of this chapter is considered to be practicing law. Pulse v. North American Land Title Co. of Montana, 707 P.2d 1105 (Mont. 1985)What constitutes the practice of law is not easily defined. In Cowern v. Nelson (1940), 207 Minn. 642, 290 N.W. 795, 797, the Minnesota Court stated: “The line between what is and what is not the practice of law cannot be drawn with precision. Lawyers should be the first to recognize that between the two there is a region wherein much of what lawyers do every day in their practice may also be done by others without wrongful invasion of the lawyer's field.”

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


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 Montana code of professional conduct which is modelled on the ABA model code (see:http://www.montanaodc.org/Portals/ODC/docs/rules_of_professional_conduct.pdf)

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 Montana Bar Association: http://www.montanaodc.org/



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?

Temporary practice by both foreign lawyers and lawyers from other US states is not permitted under Montana rule 5.5. of professional conduct.  Compliance with the Montana Supreme Court Rules on pro hac vice is required for lawyers from other US States.

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 Montana. 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?

No - There is no FLC licensing regime in Montana

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?


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


Not permitted

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?


In July 7, 2004, the Supreme Court of Montana denied a petition filed by the State Bar to revise the rules for admission to: (1) allow admission of ten-year practitioners by motion under certain conditions;
(2) allow admission of five-year practitioners from several neighboring states under the constraints of a reciprocity agreement.


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

There are no separate requirements on 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?


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? 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


Verified by

Montana Bar Association (February 2014)