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USA - Pennsylvania International Trade in Legal Services

USA - Pennsylvania International Trade in Legal Services

HOME COUNTRY LICENSING QUESTIONS

Is there legislation governing the legal sector

PENNSYLVANIA CONSOLIDATED STATUTES, TITLE 42- JUDICIARY AND JUDICIAL PROCEDURE, Chapter 25 - Representation of Litigants, Subchapter B.  Attorneys and Counsellors

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 Pennsylvania. 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?

 

 

The Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute states that "any person, including, but not limited to, a paralegal or legal assistant, who within this Commonwealth shall practice law, or who shall hold himself out to the public as being entitled to practice law, or use or advertise the title of lawyer, attorney at law, attorney and counselor at law, counselor, or the equivalent in any language, in such a manner as to convey the impression that he is a practitioner of the law of any jurisdiction, without being an attorney at law or a corporation complying with 15 Pa.C.S. Ch. 29 (relating to professional corporations), commits a misdemeanor of the third degree upon a first violation."

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 Pennsylvania code of professional conduct which is modelled on the ABA model code (see:http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/204/chapter81/s81.4.html)

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.

   

INDIVIDUAL FOREIGN LAWYERS

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?

Rule 5.5 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct allow lawyers admitted in foreign jurisdictions to practice on a temporary basis in the state. Rule 5.5 states "A lawyer admitted in another United States jurisdiction or in a foreign jurisdiction, and not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services on a temporary basis in this jurisdiction that:
   (1)  are undertaken in association with a lawyer who is admitted to practice in this jurisdiction and who actively participates in the matter;
   (2)  are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential proceeding before a tribunal in this or another jurisdiction, if the lawyer, or a person the lawyer is assisting, is authorized by law or order to appear in such proceeding or reasonably expects to be so authorized

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 could practise law on a fly in fly out basis in Pennsylvania provided they meet the requirements of the Pennsylvania Bar for temporary practice. In addition. '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: Chapter 71. Pennsylvania Bar Admission Rules, Subchapter C. Restricted Practice of Law, FOREIGN LEGAL CONSULTANTS)

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)

Licensure is subject to meeting requirements of registration, a minimum age and experience requirement and certification of registration and good standing with home-country bar

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation?

 

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

 

Pennsylvania Rules of Court, Rule 301 of the Pennsylvania Bar Admission Rules.
http://www.aopc.org/OpPosting/Supreme/out/418spct.1attach.pdf. Effective September 2007.
“An attorney who is not admitted to the bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but is admitted to the bar of and authorized to practice law in the highest court of another state or foreign jurisdiction.”

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?

 

Pa.B.A.R., Rule 204, 42 Pa.C.S.A.,Pennsylvania Bar Admission Rule 204.
http://www.pabarexam.org/Admission_Rules/rules_and_regulations/204.htmApplicant must have completed law study in a foreign law school, have been admitted and in good standing at the bar of a foreign jurisdiction, and have practiced in the jurisdiction for 5 out of the last 8 years. Applicant must also complete 30 credit hours taken in specified subjects
 

FOREIGN LAW FIRMS

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?

No

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

EMPLOYMENT AND PARTNERSHIP

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?

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?

Yes

   

OTHER USEFUL LINKS/SOURCES

Other useful sources or comments or links