Bar News - March 18, 2015
President's Perspective: Have You Considered the Globalization of Law Practice?
By: Lisa Wellman-Ally
I recently attended the National Conference of Bar Presidents Mid-Year Meeting in Houston, Texas. As with many legal organizations, one of the recurring themes of this conference was the future of the legal profession. One session I attended discussed the globalization of law practice. I thought to myself, “What does this have to do with me, a solo practitioner in a small town?” Well, let me tell you, it affects all of us.
We used to be concerned about out-of-state attorneys handling cases within our borders. Guidelines were established for the manner in which out-of-state attorneys can practice in New Hampshire. We further expanded those guidelines by allowing admission on motion. Many of us practice in more than one state. Even more of us have cases that might require us to practice in a neighboring state under that state’s restrictions.
Now, what about foreign attorneys? Even I have had situations arise in which one party to a divorce lives in another country, or perhaps the parties’ children are residents of another country. These situations arise in the most unexpected ways and reach even the remotest parts of our state. So, we need to think about it.
First, what are our obligations, rights and limitations in the foreign jurisdictions? How far can we go in representing our local client in the foreign jurisdiction? If the legal forum is in our state, then we need to be aware of the restrictions and limitations on the foreign attorney’s authority in New Hampshire.
One of the interesting things I learned is that in some states, individuals can practice law without being an “attorney.” Those individuals may or may not be subject to the same kind of regulations as an attorney in our state would be. We need to think about what our obligations are to ascertain the extent of the authority of the other side’s representation and how that may affect our professional responsibilities here in this state. We also need to think about the manner in which we, as New Hampshire attorneys, should welcome these foreign legal representatives to our jurisdiction and what additional rules we might adopt to govern these legal representatives.
I have been practicing for 25 years and I am amazed by how the practice of law has changed over the course of that quarter-century. For my colleagues that have been practicing even longer, I am sure you are astounded about the ways things are changing.
As much as some of us hate change (me included), we need to keep our minds open and recognize the wave of the future. We cannot stand back and hope it passes us by. We need to reach out and invite it in!