USA - North Dakota International Trade in Legal Services

United States of America - North Dakota International Trade in Legal Services


Is there legislation governing the legal sector

NORTH DAKOTA STATUTE, Chapter 27 Judicial Branch of Government

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 Bachelor’s degree and 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 North Dakota. 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?

State v. Niska, 380 N.W.2d 646 (N.D. 1986) – what constitutes the practice of law does not lend itself to an inclusive definition.

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 North Dakota 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? 

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 North Dakota would need to be fully admitted to the North Dakota 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?













 A foreign lawyer can obtain a licence to become a foreign legal consultant. The relevant rules may be found in the North Dakota Admission to Practise Rules, and Article VI, Section 3, North Dakota Constitution.  A person licensed to practise as a foreign legal consultant under this law may render legal services in the State but shall not be considered admitted to practise law in the State or in any way hold himself or herself out as a member of the Bar of the State, or do any of the following:
1.  Appear as an attorney on behalf of another person in any court or before any magistrate or other judicial officer in the State (except when admitted pro hac vice pursuant to Rule 3A of the Admission to Practise Rules);
2.  Prepare any instrument effecting the transfer or registration of title to real estate located in the United States of America:
3. Prepare:
(a) any will or trust instrument effecting disposition on death of any property located in and owned by a resident of the United States of America; or
(b) any instrument relating to the administration of a decedent's estate in the United States of America;
4. 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 parental rights and responsibilities or care of the children of the resident;
5.  Render professional legal advice on the law of the State 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 (other than by virtue of having been licensed under this Rule) to render professional legal advice in this State; or;
6.  Carry on a practice under or utilised in connection with such practice in any name, title or designation other than one or more of the following:
(a)  the foreign legal consultant's own name;
(b)  the name of the law firm to which the foreign legal consultant is affiliated;
(c)  the foreign legal consultant's authorised title in the foreign country where they are admitted to practise which may be used in conjunction with the name of the country;
(d) the title “foreign legal consultant” which may be used in conjunction with the words 'admitted to the practice of law in [name of country]'.
In order to offer advisory services in foreign and international law, a foreign legal consultant is not required but may enter a commercial association with local lawyers.

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

A foreign lawyer licensed as a foreign legal consultant in this state must maintain a practising office in North Dakota.

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




In order to qualify for a limited licence :
1. For at least five years, the person must have been a member in good standing of a recognised legal profession in a foreign country, the members of which are admitted to practise as attorneys or counsellors-at-law or the equivalent and are subject to effective regulation and discipline by a duly constituted professional body or public authority;
2. For at least five of the seven years immediately preceding application, has been a member in good standing of such legal profession and has been lawfully engaged in such legal profession and has been lawfully engaged in the practice of law in the foreign country or elsewhere substantially involved in or relating to the rendering of advice or the provision of legal services concerning the law of the foreign country;
3. Possess the good moral character and general fitness requisite for a member of a Bar of the State;
4. Intend to practise as a foreign law consultant in the State and maintain an office in the State for that purpose.

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation?


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


 Admission to Practice Rule 3. Pro Hac Vice Admission and Registration of Non-resident Attorneys.
Similar to ABA Model Rule on Pro Hac Vice Admission. Also provides for the registration of in-house counsel

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?


A foreign lawyer can obtain a full licence to practise law in this jurisdiction. The relevant legislation is Article 6, Section 3 of the North Dakota Constitution; Chapter 27-11 of the North Dakota Century Code; North Dakota Admission to Practise Rules; North Dakota Rules of Professional Conduct.  This is available online at;;
In order to obtain a full licence to practise law in this jurisdiction, foreign lawyers must be a graduate of an ABA approved law school.  These requirements are the same as those applicable to a local applicant.


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?


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




Other useful sources or comments or links


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North Dakota Supreme Court (February 2014)