The Texas Supreme Court Task Force on International Law Practice: Making Texas More Competitive in International Law


Long ago, the New York Bar reformed its bar admission rules to allow eligible foreign lawyers to sit for its bar exam. The Bar’s decision has encouraged foreign lawyers from around the world to become New York lawyers and, as a result, has helped to solidify New York’s position as one of the leading markets in the world in the coveted area of international law.

Texas’ geographic, demographic, and economic characteristics place it in an enviable position for advancements in international law. Texas’ close proximity to Latin America makes it an attractive trade partner to many Latin American countries, such as Mexico and Brazil. Texas has also been very successful in attracting foreign investment in the energy sector and various other industries (e.g., telecom), and it enjoys broad diversification in terms of its foreign trade partners. Finally, Texas has a strong business infrastructure, has more than 2,000 foreign multinationals established in the state, and is the headquarters of many Fortune 500 companies.

Despite its size and economic potential, Texas significantly lags behind New York in the international-law arena. This will remain true unless there is a significant increase in the number of foreign lawyers who practice in Texas. As of now, the number of foreign lawyers seeking to take the Texas bar exam remains low. In a typical year, between ten and twenty foreign educated applicants sit for the Texas bar exam, while 4,000 plus foreign applicants sit for the New York bar exam.

In December 2012, the Texas Supreme Court Task Force on International Law Practice (“Task Force”) recommended that Texas adopt a regime similar to New York’s regime to leverage Texas’ increasingly important role in international commerce. This article provides background information regarding the Task Force, summarizes existing standards that hinder the presence of foreign lawyers in Texas, and outlines rule revisions that the Task Force recommended to increase Texas’ foothold in the international law arena.

This article will also appear in The Advocate, a publication of the Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas, to be published Summer 2013, Vol. 63. To read the full article, click on the PDF linked below.

PDF - Making-Texas-More-Competitive-International-Law.pdf

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