An Overview of the History of Foreign Legal Consultants Between the United States and Mexico

04/04/2006

This article reviews the history of the development of foreign legal consultant systems and the continuing evolution of these systems as a means for law firms to keep up with global trade patterns and advocates, particularly between Mexico and the United States. However, this is a difficult and controversial topic that can be viewed from many perspectives, not just an international commerce perspective.

The role of lawyers in societies is much broader than only facilitating international commerce. As a result, not all lawyers or judges believe that a foreign legal consultant program is desirable. In federal systems such as the United States, the states, not the federal government, license the practice of law. This makes implementing a United States national foreign legal system very challenging. Other nations are reluctant to negotiate reciprocal foreign legal consultant system agreements with the United States because the United States cannot operate on a national level, but only on a state-by-state level.

Twenty-six states, however, do have foreign legal consultant programs. Foreign lawyers interested in international trade could relocate to these twenty-six states to practice law in the United States. Arguably, although imperfect, the participation of twenty-six states is close enough to a practical solution for bilateral arrangements between the United States and major trading partners. The balance of this article presents the international trade argument for foreign legal consultants, looking at New York as an example for the United States, Texas, and Mexico.

In order to comply with certain U.S. Treasury regulations, we are informing you that any U.S. federal tax advice that may be contained in this document is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any person for the purpose of (i) avoiding any tax penalties that may be imposed by the Internal Revenue Service or any other U.S. federal taxing authority or agency or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.

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