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USA - Virginia International Trade in Legal Services

United States of America - Virginia International Trade in Legal Services

HOME COUNTRY LICENSING QUESTIONS

Is there legislation governing the legal sector

ANNOTATED CODE OF VIRGINIA RULES OF THE SUPREME COURT OF VIRGINIA

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 a law school approved by the American Bar Association, satisfy character and fitness to practice requirements, have passed the bar exam or meet the qualifications for admission on motion, and be an active member of the Virginia State Bar.

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 entitles the holder to practise in Virginia. The right to practise on a temporary basis in another state or to appear pro hac vice in another state depends on the authority granted by that state or federal law if the lawyer’s practice is limited exclusively to an area of federal law.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which authority issues licences? Are there different authorities for individuals and firms?  Subject to some limited exceptions, only licensed attorneys may give legal advice to, prepare legal instruments for or represent a client before a tribunal. ANNOTATED CODE OF VIRGINIA RULES OF THE SUPREME COURT OF VIRGINIA PART SIX. INTEGRATION OF THE STATE BAR SECTION I. UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE RULES AND CONSIDERATIONS PRACTICE OF LAW IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
Part 6, §1. Practice of Law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
(A) No non-lawyer shall engage in the practice of law in the Commonwealth of Virginia or in any manner hold himself out as authorized or qualified to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia except as may be authorized by rule or statute.(B) Definition of the Practice of Law. The principles underlying a definition of the practice of law have been developed through the years in social needs and have received recognition by the courts. It has been found necessary to protect the relation of attorney and client against abuses. Therefore, it is from the relation of attorney and client that any practice of law must be derived. The relation of attorney and client is direct and personal, and a person, natural or artificial, who undertakes the duties and responsibilities of an attorney is nonetheless practicing law though such person may employ others to whom may be committed the actual performance of such duties. The gravity of the consequences to society resulting from abuses of this relation demands that those assuming to advise or to represent others shall be properly trained and educated, and be subject to a peculiar discipline. That fact, and the necessity for protection of society in its affairs and in the ordered proceedings of its tribunals, have developed the principles which serve to define the practice of law. Generally, the relation of attorney and client exists, and one is deemed to be practicing law whenever he furnishes to another advice or service under circumstances which imply his possession and use of legal knowledge or skill. Specifically, the relation of attorney and client exists, and one is deemed to be practicing law whenever
(1) One undertakes for compensation, direct or indirect, to advise another, not his regular employer, in any matter involving the application of legal principles to facts or purposes or desires.(2) One, other than as a regular employee acting for his employer, undertakes, with or without compensation, to prepare for another legal instruments of any character, other than notices or contracts incident to the regular course of conducting a licensed business.(3) One
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undertakes, with or without compensation, to represent the interest of another before any tribunal--judicial, administrative, or executive--otherwise than in the presentation of facts, figures, or factual conclusions, as distinguished from legal conclusions, by an employee regularly and bona fide employed on a salary basis, or by one specially employed as an expert in respect to such facts and figures when such representation by such employee or expert does not involve the examination of witnesses or preparation of pleadings.

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

No

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, professional limited liability company or a professional corporation. Fee sharing with non- lawyers is prohibited.

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

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. Law firms that are formed as limited liability entities must register biannually with the Virginia State Bar.  Part 6.Sec. IV, Para. 14 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia. http://www.vsb.org/pro-guidelines/index.php/bar-govt/ppc-pllc-llp/

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 Supreme Court of Virginia through the Board of Bar Examiners.

   

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foreign lawyers are permitted to practise temporarily in Virginia. A ""Foreign Lawyer"" is defined as ""a person authorized to practice law by the duly constituted and authorized governmental body of any State or Territory of the United States or the District of Columbia, or a foreign nation, but is neither licensed by the Supreme Court of Virginia or authorized under its rules to practice law generally in the Commonwealth of Virginia, nor disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction"".  The Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct 5.5(d) (2) state that ""A Foreign Lawyer shall not, except as authorized by these Rules or other law: (i) establish an office or other systematic and continuous presence in Virginia for the practice of law, which may occur even if the Foreign Lawyer is not physically present in Virginia; or (ii) hold out to the public or otherwise represent that the Foreign Lawyer is admitted to practice law in Virginia. (3) A Foreign Lawyer shall inform the client and interested third parties in writing: (i) that the lawyer is not admitted to practice law in Virginia; (ii) the jurisdiction(s) in which the lawyer is licensed to practice; and (iii) the lawyer’s office address in the foreign jurisdiction. (4) A Foreign Lawyer may, after informing the client as required in 3(i)-(iii) above, provide legal services on a temporary and occasional basis in Virginia that:
(i) are undertaken in association with a lawyer who is admitted to practice without limitation in Virginia or admitted under Part I of Rule 1A:5 of this Court and who actively participates in the matter;
(ii) are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential proceeding before a tribunal in Virginia or another jurisdiction, if the Foreign Lawyer, or a person the Foreign Lawyer is assisting, is authorized by law or order to appear in such proceeding or reasonably expects to be so authorized; (iii) are in or reasonably related to a pending or potential arbitration, mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution proceeding in Virginia or another jurisdiction, if the services arise out of or are reasonably related to the Foreign Lawyer’s practice in a jurisdiction in which the Foreign Lawyer is admitted to practice and are not services for which the forum requires pro hac vice admission; or (iv) are not within paragraphs (4)(ii) or (4)(iii) and arise out of or are reasonably related to the representation of a client by the Foreign Lawyer in a jurisdiction in which the Foreign Lawyer is admitted to practice or, subject to the foregoing limitations, are governed primarily by international law. (5) A foreign legal consultant practicing under Rule 1A:7 of this Court and a corporate counsel registrant practicing under Part II of Rule 1A:5 of this Court are not authorized to practice under this rule.

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 Virginia provided they meet the requirements of the Virginia 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?

Effective January 1, 2009, Virginia Supreme Court adopted a rule that allows a non-U.S attorney to practice in Virginia as a Foreign Legal Consultant.     http://www.vsb.org/pro-guidelines/index.php/foreign-legal-consultant/

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)

Not applicable

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation?

 

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

No. Admission pro hac vice is limited to US admitted lawyers.
Have a Rule: Virginia Supreme Court . Rule 1A:4. Foreign Attorneys - When Allowed by Comity to Participate in the Trial of a Case.
http://www.vsb.org/pro-guidelines/index.php/pro-hac-vice/

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?

No. Virginia Supreme Court Rule 1A:1.
http://barexam.virginia.gov/motion/motion.html
 

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? 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

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

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

Yes

   

OTHER USEFUL LINKS/SOURCES

Other useful sources or comments or links