USA - Oregon International Trade in Legal Services

United States of America - Oregon International Trade in Legal Services


Is there legislation governing the legal sector

Oregon Revised Statutes, Chapter 9 — Attorneys; Law Libraries

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, 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 Oregon. The right to practise in another state depends on the laws and rules of that state.

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










Except as otherwise provided by law, a person may not practice law in this state, or represent that the person is eligible to practice law in this state, unless the person is an active member of the Oregon State Bar. ORS 9.160. In Oregon State Bar v. Security Escrows, Inc., 377 P.2d 334 (Or. 1962), the Oregon Supreme Court held:
“The present statutes contain no definition of the practice of law. From 1919 to 1937 there was a statutory definition. See § 32-505, Oregon Code 1930, repealed by Oregon Laws 1937, ch. 343.
Even so, we have found no authority for the proposition that legislative silence in this instance is the equivalent of a legislative definition of the practice of law. We must hold that the legislature has not attempted to define the practice of law, and, accordingly, there is no need to inquire whether it has the power to do so.
Before we may proceed with the case at bar, however, it is necessary to have before us enough of a definition so that we can decide whether the court below should have issued the injunction. We must mark out at least enough of the boundaries of the practice of law so that we can decide whether or not the activities complained of fall within them, leaving to future cases such other definitional problems as may remain unresolved.
There have been numerous attempts elsewhere to define the practice of law. [FN1] None has been universally accepted. [FN2] The Arizona Supreme Court has said that an exhaustive definition is impossible. Perhaps it is. See State Bar of Arizona v. Arizona Land Title & Trust Co., 90 Ariz. 76, 366 P.2d 1, 9 (1961), on petition for rehearing, 91 Ariz. 293, 371 P.2d 1020 (1962).
For the purposes of this case, we hold that the practice of law includes the drafting or selection of documents and the giving of advice in regard thereto any time an informed or trained discretion must be exercised in the selection or drafting of a document to meet the needs of the persons being served. The knowledge of the customer's needs obviously cannot be had by one who has no knowledge of the relevant law. One must know what questions to ask. Accordingly, any exercise of an intelligent choice, or an informed discretion in advising another of his legal rights and duties, will bring the activity within the practice of the profession. We reject such artificial or haphazard tests as custom, payment, [FN5] or the quality of being 'incidental.' [FN6]”

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

No, not to be eligible for admission to the Oregon State Bar.

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. See RPC 5.4(a).

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

The Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct which are modelled on the ABA model rules (see: and Oregon Revised Statutes, Chapter 9. Oregon requires all active members of the state bar who are engaged in the private practice of law and whose principle offices are in Oregon to carry professional liability insurance through the Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund. ORS 9.080(2).

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

Not from the Court or the Oregon State Bar 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 Oregon would need to be fully admitted to the Oregon 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 ORS 9.242 and Oregon Admission Rule 12.05). The scope of practice permitted to an FLC includes: Practice of home country law and international law to the extent it is incorporated in home-country law; the practice of 3rd-country law if the FLC obtains advice from an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction and identifies that person to the client; the practice of US/State law is permitted if the FLC obtains advice from an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction and identifies that person to the client.

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

FLCs must be in good standing with their home bar and abide by the State code of conduct

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

FLC licensure is subject to meeting requirements of registration, a minimum age of 18 years, an experience requirement (5 of the 7 years preceding registration must have been spent practising law), and certification of registration and good standing with home-country bar, possession of good moral character and fitness to practice law, intention to practice as a foreign law consultant in Oregon, meeting the professional liability insurance requirement,  and agreement to comply with ORS Chapter 9, the Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct and the Oregon State Bar Rules of Procedure

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation?


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


An FLC may not appear in Oregon courts. However, a foreign lawyer may appear in Oregon courts if the foreign lawyer is fully licensed in Oregon (see Oregon Supreme Court Admission Rule 12.05 and 15.05) or pursuant to the Attorney Exchange Program (see Oregon Supreme Court Admission Rule 14.05—14.25).

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?



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? 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 A foreign law firm may need to register with the Oregon Secretary of State in order to do business in the state of Oregon.


Are there restrictions on the ownership share of foreign lawyers in a law firm?


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?

Yes - this is explicitly mentioned in the USA's schedule of specific commitments on legal services

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




Other useful sources or comments or links

The rules and regulations relating to the practice of law in Oregon may all be found here:

Verified by

General Counsel, Oregon State Bar (December 2013)